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 →
Today is July 1st, a very special day. Most importantly, it’s Canada Day, a national holiday. That’s always nice. Of secondary importance, it’s the beginning of the NHL free agency period, one of the busiest days in terms of player movement. There may be no better day for a Canadian hockey fan than July 1.
More than that, though, today is the beginning of July, the seventh month. The year is officially half over. Six months have gone, six months remain. It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming in 2016, and now it’s half over and soon it will be done. That’s … quite sobering, really.
Most people have long since abandoned their new year’s resolutions, but not me. I’m constantly thinking about how I can improve, where I need to improve and what I need to do to get there. I set some pretty lofty goals back at the beginning of the year, and now is the perfect time to make sure I’m still trending in the right direction or if I need to change something. Continue reading →
As we grow as chess players, our style evolves. This happens naturally as our positional judgement deepens. We gain a better understanding of when and how to attack, of where it makes sense and where we are just using wishful thinking.
For most of my chess development, I’ve been an aggressive player. I started with 1.e4 and 2.Qh5 in more games than I care to admit. The King’s Gambit played a large role in my opening repertoire. My entire chess strategy was 1. Develop pieces, and 2. Throw pieces at the enemy King. Crude, but if your opponent makes one mistake you win in 18 moves, so that’s pretty nice.
Along the way, though, I gained a much stronger positional grasp of the game, and this greatly curtailed my attacking tendencies. When I did attack, they were usually because the position demanded it, not because I felt like it. Here are some examples of my game maturing over the years. Continue reading →
If you hear a seasoned chess player talk about chess, it’s usually one of two things: either about famous players or openings. What else is there to talk about? Everybody has his or her own favourite player, be it the dauntless Tal or the dominating Capablanca or the demolishing Fischer. Finding your favourite player is generally pretty easy as well. Go through a collection of famous games, see one that catches your eye and presto, your favourite player.
For the record, my favourite player is Siegbert Tarrasch.
Openings, though, are completely different. While you might enjoy going through your favourite player’s games, you need to play your own openings. You need to study hard and memorize lines if you want to avoid opening traps, especially in the heavy theoretical lines. Each opening is different, leading to different positions, and it can seem overwhelming. Where to start? Which is best? How can I possibly know any of this? Continue reading →
The most common way to win a chess game at the amateur level is through your opponent’s blunder. We would like to think that we win because of our brilliant abilities, because that makes our egos feel good. In reality, most games are simply one side noticing and taking advantage of the other’s mistakes.
Here I will show different examples of blunders from my own games. These are all mistakes I made. I didn’t think it very fair to show blunders from my opponents, as no one wants to admit to blundering, so I’ll use my own mistakes from my own games. Some of them are quite … well, I was much younger at the time. Continue reading →
In everyday life, we use the word ‘obsession’ rather loosely. When we say someone is obsessed with something, we generally mean they have a very high interest in something and spend much of their free time on it. We generally do not mean that they are under mental compulsion and are unable to do anything else.
When it comes to chess, at times I was very close to this actual definition of obsession.
I consider this image really clever.
It didn’t happen right away. Though I learned chess at the age of six, I didn’t get fully into it until the age of 10 or so. I was getting pretty good, considering I only played once a month or so, but I couldn’t beat my grandfather. I got close a few times, but more likely I was simply losing slower. I was putting up resistance, not fighting back. I wanted to change that. Continue reading →
I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a Smirnov fanboy, a disciple if you will. If he makes something, I buy it. I have good reason: before his courses, I had been stuck at 1800 rating for years and years. I studied Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding, his flagship course, in 2015, and in March 2016 my rating currently sits at 2088. I’ve improved nearly 300 points, and I might not be done yet. That’s awesome.
I’ll be honest, I’m amazed at my progress.
I own all of Smirnov’s courses, and as I’ve begun watching and rewatching all the lessons, I’ve begun to see the overall pattern or structure of his teaching. I now understand why his courses are the way they are, and I want to share that with you here. Continue reading →
This game was special. For one, it pushed me to 1990 rating, and my next win (which happened on the very same day) pushed me over 2000 rating for the first time. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I thought it was one of the best games I had ever played. Ever.
It certainly was a good game, against a good 1800-ish opponent, but time away and deep analysis has exposed some blemishes. Still, as far as positional games go, it was a treat to play, and when he finally resigned I felt a surge of excitement I hadn’t felt over a chess victory in a long time.
Quick background: the game started out as a Nimzo, then transposed into a QGD structure. I made a freeing tactic which turned the game into a related but unique structure, and I then used my bad Bishop to outplay a good Knight before simplifying into a better endgame. Pfew. Continue reading →
Over the weekend, instead of watching the Superbowl, I mostly played chess. I play correspondence chess, and I had a few opponents on at roughly the same time. We exchanged moves quickly, or as quickly as correspondence chess allows, and soon I had three games approaching the 40th move. I had a growing advantage in all three, and suddenly all three were over.