If I had to be honest, most of my chess games are unremarkable. Usually one side makes a silly mistake, losing a pawn or a piece, and then the other side takes advantage and wins rather simply. This is how most chess games work. We like to think it’s because of smashing attacks and beautiful play, but usually it’s a simple blunder. That’s okay, a win is a win, but it’s hard to call something like that one of your ‘best’ games.
Back in September I covered perhaps my best chess game, one where I obtain a perfect positional bind and then creatively opened lines for a mating attack even without Queens. It’s original, in an unusual opening, and it was a lot of fun. Completely different from most of my chess games, and the computer confirmed that most of my play was near optimal. That makes me happy.
Today is something completely different: a game where I do not play accurately; in fact, I play based on emotion, basically saying ‘screw it, I feel like attacking now,’ and amazingly it worked! Continue reading →
The appeal of chess is mesmerizing. We start with equal forces, two identical armies on a symmetric board, but a good player will still readily beat a poor one. It’s not luck, it’s not chance, it’s not a teammate dropping a perfect pass. No, it’s all personal skill. If you win at chess, you deserve it, and that feeling really feels great.
I like winning, just like everyone else, but more than that I like knowing I’m right. At any given time, any given position, there is a best move. It might be microscopically better than the alternatives, but it is still the best. The appeal of chess, for me, isn’t just winning but knowing that I played the best moves as often as possible. That’s perhaps my real motivation, and that powers my training plan. Continue reading →
This year, I figured I’d change that. Since I easily handled three goals last year, I’ll set more this year. Indeed, I’ll go into greater detail, completely outlining my expectations and my plan of attack. At this time next year, there will be no mystery about whether I achieved or failed these goals. I also think writing them down in detail is both more motivating and lets me plan it out better, as opposed to just “let’s hope and pray it works.”
Alternate title: the difference between high-rated players and lower rated players.
I’m involved in a tournament on chess.com, and I got randomly paired against a 1400 and a 1500-rated player. I won all four games, one with each colour, and I noticed similarities in all the games. I won rather easily in all four, as I should, being nearly 500 rating points higher, but how did I do it?
The lazy answer is I outplayed them positionally, but that’s a vague assessment. What does it mean to be positionally outplayed? In a nutshell, I did two things better than my opponents: I made a plan, whereas they did not, and I consistently improved my pieces, whereas they made many more backwards moves.
I’ve been playing less chess the last few weeks, for a variety of reasons. I planned on doing NaNoWriMo, so I didn’t start many games … and then I stopped doing NaNoWriMo, so opps. I’ve also had other changes in my life, and this caused me to budget my time and chess is the area that suffered.
All in all, I only completed two games in November. One was a rather uninteresting draw in the Open Spanish. I’ve linked it but offer no real comment. I had slight winning chances in the endgame but pushed my pawn too early, and it would have taken lots of grinding for any chance of winning. The other game was more interesting but worse: I lost. Continue reading →
In September I did not finish any of my correspondence games, despite having 11 on the go. In October I finished most of them, all against opponents greater than 1750, and most were quite interesting. I’ve won them all so far, though one was due to a timeout in an equal position. Along the way I passed the 1900 rating mark, and I wrote about four of those games here.
For my game of the month I choose the following match, one played against an 1800 rated player. It was an Open Sicilian, but the play was very positional in nature. There were no sudden tactics or crazy attacks: I simply improved my position slowly, and Black had to way to hang on to his weaknesses. I like attacks and sacrifices as much as the next guy, but this is my favourite way to play: calm, logical, absolutely no risk, and it’s easy. Few of my moves are difficult to find.
I wrote yesterday that I had a really good day. I wrote that before the best news happened: I reached a new personal chess milestone, hitting over 1900 rating for the first time ever.
Real life milestones are a lot different and less motivational than personal milestones.
I had the day off, so I mostly sat at my computer playing chess. I play correspondence chess at chess.com, and two other opponents were logged in at the same time. We traded moves back and forth, and in the end I won all four games, two against each with both colours. In doing so, my rating ballooned all the way past 1900. Continue reading →