This Week’s Games

Round 2, Tuesdays

Round 3, Wednesdays

[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[Date “2017.11.15”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Teah Williams”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1829”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1665”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bg5 d6 7. Nbd2 h6 8. Bh4
Qe7 9. h3 Be6 10. Qb3 b5 11. Bxe6 Qxe6 12. O-O O-O 13. Rac1 Bb6 14. d4 Qxb3
15. axb3 Nh5 16. dxe5 g5 17. exd6 gxh4 18. Nxh4 Nf4 19. Kh1 cxd6 20. Nf5 Nd3
21. Rc2 Nxf2+ 22. Kh2 h5 23. Nxd6 Bc7 24. Rxf2 Bxd6+ 25. Kh1 Bg3 26. Rf5 h4
27. Nf1 Bc7 28. Rg5+ Kh7 29. Rh5+ Kg6 30. Rxh4 f5 31. exf5+ Rxf5 32. Rg4+ Kf7
33. Ng3 Rd8 34. Rg7+ Kxg7 35. Nxf5+ Kf6 36. g4 Ne5 37. Rf2 Kg5 38. Kg2 Nd3 39.
Ng7 Nxf2 40. Ne6+ Kh4 41. Nxd8 Bxd8 42. Kxf2 Kxh3 43. Kf3 Bg5 44. c4 Bc1 45.
cxb5 axb5 46. g5 Bxg5 47. Ke4 b4 48. Kd3 Kg3 49. Kc2 Kf3 50. Kd3 Bf4 51. Kc4
Bd2 52. Kd3 Be1 53. Kc2 Ke2 54. Kc1 Bd2+ 55. Kc2 Bf4 56. Kb1 Kd2 57. Ka2 Kc2
58. Ka1 Kxb3 0-1

4.c3  It’s important to have your early pawn-breaks memorized in 1.e4 e5 openings.  Here, 4.d4 would need to be met by either the unpopular 4…Bd6 or by 4…dxe4, 5.cxd4 Bb4+ (with …d5 to follow) to avoid giving White a material advantage.

6.Bg5  This looks sort of automatic, but perhaps more successful tries are 6.0-0 with 7.Be3, or 6.Bb3 (to remove the bishop to the other diagonal at the right moment).  Both of these options give Black one more chance to play …h6, when White can then get in Be3 with a sort of gain of tempo.

Believe it or not, Black can already play …h6, …g5, and after a bishop trade on e6, if White castles queenside, then Black can also castle queenside, for a slight advantage, versus kingside, which would only be equal.

5…d6.  Playing this move instead of …h6 here may seem insignificant, but White could now take the game into a very different direction with 7.e4 instead of 7.Nbd2.

9…Be6.  9…Bd7 would be a decent waiting move, to see which side Black castles on.  9…Bb6 is another fine waiting move, but the DB prefers …Ba7 in all 7 tries, so either way.

10…b5?!  Better here, for Black, is 10…Na5, 11.Qa4+ Bd7, 12.Qc2 (12.QxNa4? b6, 13.Qxa6 RxQ, 14.BxR b5!, which is close to +1 for Black).

13.Rc1  White aims at winning the c7 pawn after a d4 push, but this ignores the reality of the situation.  Not only should Black now play 13…Nh5, but White’s more valuable e4 pawn would also come under fire, after trading on d4, in the game continuation.

16.dxe5  During the game, I was expecting the best continuation, 16.d5 Nb8, which I was still pleased about.  After the game, I suggested to Teah that she could have avoided my trappy play with 16.Kh2, but even here Houdini shows Black gets an advantage after trading on d4, and then playing …Re8, where playing Rfe1 to guard the e4 pawn could end in a fork to …Nh5-f4-d3.

17…exd6. Houdini considers 17.g4 to be the better line, which surrenders the exchange for a pawn. I had seen this line before playing …Nh5, but judging by the speed of her reply, I would guess she did not look at this continuation. In any case, it’s not an easy determination, OTB.

18.Nxh4? This loses +1.5 of score, according to Houdini. Best was to take on c7, which deflects the bishop from it’s diagonal, or requires two moves from a rook to recapture, and the knight was going to take on h4 and then play to f5 anyway. I think she moved too quickly here, not seeing a potential knight skewer on the d-file (if her knight recaptured on d6) until after she had moved. Perhaps more importantly, though, Nxh4 ignores the reality of Black’s next move.

18…Nf4 Here, I did look at 18…Ng3, 19.Rfe1, but missed that 19…Ne5! will then win on exchange after …Nd3 or will win the d6 pawn outright, as well as the f2 pawn. It’s worth noting here that the …Ng3 controls the f5 square that her knight wants to jump to, and if her king moves, then …Bxf2 will also protect the Ng3, and the two here offer interlocking protection as well, the …Ng3 controls f1. Even more amazing is that if White plays a Rc2 followed by say b4 and Nb3, then …Ng3xe4 will defend the …Bf2, which is now attacking the Nh4, and in between all those moves Black would already have a rook protecting the won d6 pawn.

It’s worth noting that 18.Kh2, instead of 18.Nxc4 would have stopped this tactic, although this one move hesitation, would have allowed Black to successfully defend both d6 and h6 pawns by playing …Rfe8-e6.

19.Kh1? At the board, given the time she spent (not a quick move), I somehow suspected this move, and yet it is a gross mistake. Best is to move the Rc1 to get out of the fork, but even 19.Kh2 is -1, whereas her move is -2. The immediate problem is that she avoids one fork, but now allows Nxf2+, and that check represents an extra tempo for Black. The fear of putting the king on the h2 diagonal was a very far-off threat, and not so pertinent. At the board, it’s easy to get a bit paranoid and to fear the far-off threat; a Master might refer to these as “ghost” threats.

19…cxd6? Not accurate. 19…Nd3 should be played now, with the reason given in the next note – 19…Nd3 would prevent White from stopping the …Nd3, …Nxf2+ line.

20…Nf5? Returning the favor. 20.Ndf3 should be played now to avoid the variation where Black plays Nxf2+. After 20.Ndf3 Nd3, 21.Rc2, f2 is protected and Black can’t take it with check, either. After 20…Ndf3, 21.Rc2 Rad8 (..Nc5 is better), 22.Nh4f5 Kh7, 23.N3d4! White has protected all of it’s loose pawns, but in doing so made sure Black can trade off a night, have a great unnattacked pawn center, with a monster Nf5 and rooks without worries. So, by just protecting everything, our hero the Class A player, could end up with a lot less of a position, as Black. What’s worse is that White’s pieces are much more interconnected here, easily able to defend all of it’s practical weaknesses. The key is that White is not focused on material, but rather on consolidating his/her position – “playability” in a nutshell.

22…h5 This move is not as accurate as 22…Kh7. For one, the pawn is more a liability than an asset (pushing it considers it to be an immediate asset), and two the king is brought into play, covering a couple third-rank squares that could deny the knight or rook access. It should be noted that the “weak f7” pawn is obstructed by the good knight on f5. After 22..Kh7, f7 could be viewed an alarming weakness (not defending the second rank with the king, with check), but here we have to say “ghost threat” as not only is the …Rf8 defending the square at the moment, but so is the …Nf2, and …Nf5, too many obstructions for White.

23.Nxd6? It’s amazing how much, we as human beings, love pawn-counting. Better ideas were 23.b4, to mark Black’s a6 pawn as a permanent weakness, and it also mobilizes White’s mass of pawns, which is better for later attacking with it, and defending it. Taking the d6 pawn mostly opens up the d-file for a Black rook, it doesn’t improve White’s pieces by comparison at all, since White is not asking the question “Darn, if I only had a knight on d6, all my other pieces could strike immediately!” This fall’s under the principle given by Timur Gareev “Don’t be the one to open up the position if your position (piece-development) is worse!” The other idea, given by Houdini, is to play 23.g3 with the idea of Kg2, where the king adds its control to f2.

23…Bc7?! Inaccurate. It’s easy to see this move is a product of the trading of pieces in time-pressure, to gain a more manageable position. 23…Rad8, followed by 24…Rfe8 is the stronger plan here. It’s easy to fear White playing Ra1, taking that pawn, and skewering the pieces on the third-rank, but by then Black is trading the a6 pawn for the more valuable e4 pawn, and also can step out of this skewer with …Bc7+, followed by …Ne7, attacking Whites Nf5.

25…Bg3 A miscalculation in time-pressure, not seeing that White could eventually win Black’s …g3 pawn with Rg5+, a few moves down the road. Two top moves here are 25…h4 (a far more accurate move-order than …Bg3), and …Re8 (best). I considered …Re8, as well as …Be5, and …Ne5. I could see that …Re8 ties down White the most, but I was as impatient as my clock to find something more definite seeming, in terms of a forcing-sequence.

It’s critical, for our chess-development, to look at 25…Re8, to “gain the idea” of why it is so strong; e.g., 25…Rfe8, 26.Rc1 Rad8, 27.Ra1 Bg3, 28.Rf5 RxNd2, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.RxBg3 Rd1+, 31.Kg2 Rxe4, 32.Rxa6 Ree1 (threatening …Ra1 mate), 33.Ra8+ Nd8, 34.Rg5 h4! shutting the door on a mating-trap, where White must give up the exchange on d8 in order to buy time to eat the h4 pawn, stopping the mate.

27…Bc7?? This is just panic in time-pressure, not wanting to lose a pawn on g3. The bishop could be moved to e5, and if 28.Rg5+ Be5-g7, and then centralizing the rooks, is just fine for Black, and still winning. Also, there was no need to fear the “loss of the g-pawn” as in the variation where the bishop goes to g7, White hardly ever has time to recapture that pawn, her position is too bad, and in any case it can be given up for a relatively easily winning position in the line 27…Rfe8 (or 27…Rae8), 28.NxB hxN, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.Rxg3 Rxe4! 27…Rfe8 is more accurate than 27…Rae8, because you want to be able to defend that f7 pawn, and even it press it forward to …f5. I wasn’t sure about what to do with the knight, OTB, but besides attacking in the center, the move …Na5 attacks White’s weakned pawn-structure, where b4 could follow, then …Nc4, and …Nc4-d2, attacking the backward b3 pawn is something to look for.

30.Rxh4?? Ironically, the thing that probably saved me is that I was blitzing my moves, which perhaps got her to believe me as she blitzed back, even though she had 30 minutes on her clock to my 2 minutes. 30.Rc5 skewers my minor pieces, and wins one of them.

30…f5?! Blitzed. This is a concession in time-pressure, even if it doesn’t look like it and makes Black’s position seem more manageable. …Ne5, …Re8 and …Rd8, sitting on the position are all more sensible moves (not relieving the tension), but again it’s hard to sit in time-pressure when one gains more feeling of control by taking measureable action. Also note that …Na5 can be met by Ne3 where Black walks into a perpetual.

31.exf?! Again, 31.g3 would aim for a rook perpetual on the g and h files, if Black takes on e4 when a White rook is on f2, which could happen when White doesn’t capture right away on e4. 31.g3 also allows the king to get to g2, and recapture of the pawn on e4 with a rook, versus letting Black capture on f5 with a rook.

33.Ng3?! I figured this was a mistake the moment I saw it. I was starting to look at 33.Nd2, as 33.Ne3 didn’t look so challenging, but is in fact best, as White will get the more active piece outcome from this variation. The problem with 33.Ng3 is that it cannot be simply played. For example, I was prepared to play 33…Rad8, 34.Rc1 BxNg3, 35.RxB Rd2, 36.Ra1 a5 (…Ne5 is a little better)

35…Kf6! Instinctively played, even after considering that …Rf2 likely follows at some point. A …Kg6 move could be met by a …Re6+ move, at some point.

36…Ne5?! Not accurate, as a 36…Rd3! move, after 37.Kg2 Ne7, 38.NxN KxN, 39.Re2+ Ke7 with …Rg3+ to follow will win the h3 pawn or the g3 pawn.

37.Rf2?? 37.Nd4+ can keep Black’s position afloat a while longer (-1 for White).

37…Kg5 I figured this was a mistake when I played it, but felt it would challenge her more in my time-pressure. I was preparing to play 38.Ng7 Kh4 (-.7 for White), but missed this idea of 38.Nd4 (-.24), since after 38…Kh4, 39.Kg2, White threatens to mate with 40.Nf3+!, so Black would be compelled to sac his knight for the g and h pawns to stop this threat (+1.16). After …Nd4, 39.Kg6 is the move.

The real reason 37…Kg5 is so bad, though, is that Black is winning a rook after 37…Rd1+!, 38.Kg2 (Kh2 walks into discoveries like …Nxg4+) Nd3, 39.Rf1 (Rf3 gets forked by Ne1+) Nf4+, 40.Kg2 Bb6+ (Black can take on h3 first, then repeat this position) wins the Rf1.

38.Kg2? Given she had a long think here, I figured she was trying to set up Ng7, rather than pull the trigger on it immediately.


39.Ng7? 39.Rf1 Nf4+ 40.Kf3 Nxh3 wins the h3 pawn, but the game continuation is worse.

41.BxNd8?? I felt 41.Nxh3 was better, but this move is the epitome of the classic time-pressure “game management” concession. After 41.Nxh3, I am gaining both the g and h pawns, and have a bishop for a doubled-pawn. In the game continuation, I am playing into the unknown, not knowing I have walked Black’s position into a simple draw.

43…Bg5 The kicker is that she offered a draw here, which I said I would consider, but quickly made my move anyway with just under two minutes remaining. I’d come to realize that draw offers are defeatist, particularly in time-pressure, which is largely about confidence. The other thing is that by offering a draw, in a position probably only she felt was equal, caused her to lower her guard, which has ironically also been the source of many of my defeats.

44…Bc1?? Losing, because she has two protected passed pawns she can push, not just one, but she evidently didn’t work out a variation for this draw, as she traded pawns after not too much time spent on thought. 45.c5 Bxb2, 46.c6 Be5, 47.Ke4 (probably what she missed) Bc7, 48.g5 wins.

45.cxb?? Draws, 45.c5 wins.

46.g5 46.b4 either here, or on the next move, draws.

47.Ke4?? A drawing line here could be, for example, 47.b4 Be7, 48…Ke4 Bxb, 49.Kd5 Be7, 50.b4 Bxb, 51.Kc6 Ba5, 52.Kxb5. In the game continuation, Black needed only avoid a simple stalemate trick of capturing on b2 while the White king is on b1 and the Black king on b3.

This probably just looks like a lot of analysis over just another chess game, but I think I have found the secret of chess, at long last.  Maurice Ashley once said that the secret of chess was “drawbacks”, as in what is the drawback of a particular move.  I would extend this further and say that the secret of chess is “comparative analysis”; i.e., comparing one variation to another, one idea to another.

I studied tactics patterns (still forget them), how to attack (and hopefully defend), how to calculate, blindfold a bit, but in all of these you can still lose to an otherwise passive (or active) strategic player, if you let them win the battle of “comparative analysis”.  This is why study of one’s own games, in depth, is the key to improving in chess.  If you don’t get better at this one trait, OTB, then it will be easy to find ruin at any turn in the game.

I guess another way of saying this is to go ahead and study all of these different parts of chess – endgames, openings, etc, etc, but once that is what it is, it’s the comparative-analysis which determines how well one synchronizes all of these abilities into one coherent whole during the course of a game.  That is your yardstick for improving your chess during a game.





Friday Night Quick Chess

Round 1

This was a CK Fantasy variation against a new player.  I seem to have misplaced the scoresheet at the moment

Round 2

Round 3

This game is quite sad, as I forgot to press my clock, and it was only after four minutes that I caught this mistake.  I seemed to have had some better ideas in my head than the moves I played, but played quite wobbly instead.

Round 4

23…Qc6??  Quite sad, simply 23…Qc7 holds the e5 pawn.  I went to on lose this game in a rook and two pawns versus rook and three pawns, got cornered into a checkmate.

I played against Sean, who is originally from S. Africa on three separate blitz sessions – very informal, though, since I couldn’t keep up with him at blitz, and he allows take-backs, and we are just trying to have some interesting games.  That said, we’ve played for around seven hours or more since Friday.  I can definitely say that my style is improving.  Most of our games are draws, and he’s won more games than I, but we’ve been getting much closer in strength this last time (past two days).  Before that, he was cleaning my clock, so I had to start playing more prophylactically, and we’ve been playing many interesting endgames.

We’re both strong enough that anything which isn’t some absolute, obvious win, with a big material advantage, will likely turn into a draw, as he can find study-like endgame draws, and I was playing somewhere close to that myself.

I would say that Sean is borderline Expert strength, but clearly in the high 1900’s in strength.  I played this one game, which is not representative of our games by any stretch, but it was a slick enough stand-out tactical win that I wanted to preserve it.

Brian vs Sean

I didn’t write down the moves, so the move order in the opening is not correct, but the position where the tactics begin is correct.  20…Ne5.  If he had played 20…Kf8, I was going to play 21.Qe7+ Kg8, 22.Qe8+ Nf8, 23.Ne7+, where he has to give up his queen to avoid mate.

By no means have I been feeding him a constant bevy of Open Sicilians; if I did that, I would lose most of them!  I’ve played C3 sicilians, 1.d4, and 1.c4.  The English, 1.c4, provides some crazy endgame, and at first I had no idea how to play it, and he was thrashing me, but then I settled down and did better with it.  My best success has been with 1.d4 against his Gruenfeld, I’ve gotten winning positions nearly every time.  I’ve barely even played this opening online, but I seem to have a good feel for it with White, although in fairness I’ve noticed in this opening that it’s not so forgiving for Black.  If he misses one thing, one move, then White’s position can steamroll, and it’s much easier to play than 1.e4 in the sense of expertise required to win a game.  I even won a Benoni as Black, but was losing – Benoni is just a great opening for swindles from the Black side, possibly the best opening for that.

Most of our games are these staid affairs, but we do have a lot of exciting games (not as boring as the pros though, IMHO.  😉 ).  I wish I could remember this one game I played not long before end, but it was so many moves, and I really only remember it from the middlegame onward.


Didn’t See It Coming

Round 2

6.Be3  I play the Kupreichick because it’s the easiest to understand, particularly for blitz.  I wasn’t looking for an opening duel, but I got one anyway.

8.Be2  I spent 8 minutes on this move, and then regretted not playing 8.Bd3  When I force myself to move before I really want to, for sake of time, it usually means I don’t play the move I really wanted to.  Naturally, my troubles came from not finding deeper ideas in subsequent positions.

9.dxe5  An idea I missed here was 9.Nxd5 (an easier game for White) Nxd5, 10.dxe5 Bb5?!, 11.c4! Bc6, 12.cxd tears at Black’s pawn center a bit.  +=

10.b4?!  I looked at 10.0-0 Nf5, 11.Bf4, but then 11…d4? looked scary to me, since I thought my Nb1 would then be shut out, but I wasn’t understanding that position, since 12.Na3, and it’s in no danger of …Bf8xNa3 now that …d4 has been played.

11.bxc5?  Panic, desperation.  I didn’t realize the strength of Na3.  For example 11.0-0 Nxe5, 12.NxN NxN, 13.Na3 a6, 14.Rfe1 is equal, and Black can go wrong; e.g; 14…Be7, 15.bxc5 Bxc5, 16.Bxc5 Qxc5, 17.Bh5+ g6, 18.RxNe5 QxNa3, 19.Bg4 0-0-0, 20.Bxe6 Bxe6, 21.Rxe6 +=.

13.0-0  At first, I was prepared to play 13.Qf4 0-0, 14.Qg3, hence why I decided to play this line starting with move 11, however I hadn’t seen 13…0-0 at that point, and sticking my queen on g3 scared me off it, but it’s Houdini’s #1 move.

21.Bxd3  Here, I offered a draw, and it is essentially equal.

22.Qc2  In time-pressure, I start to drift.  22.Qe3 was equal.

23.Nd6??  This move was mostly a reaction to 22…Rd4, which I didn’t expect, nor did I understand.  I figured at least I’d have a chance to trap his rook, but then it dawned on my that he had something bigger planned, and I chose the best move 23.f3, in the post-mortem.  This is what happens when one doesn’t budget their time well.  Essentially, I “lost the thread of the position” here.

24.f3?!  No sooner had I played this than wished it had been 24.g3, but they are both losing, like -7 or more, and Earl had no problem with winning against both lines in the post-mortem.

26.Qb3??  Made with 6 seconds on my clock.  Earl said he had planned 26.QxR Nxf3+ followed by NxQ, which is best, and still winning for Black.

Sometimes, the most difficult type of position to deal with is a very “wide” one, where you need to be aware of four or five or more different continuations, and not simply two or three.  I think the stronger one gets at analyzing, the more this becomes apparent.











The Next Generation of Chess Players

….are always tough, and underrated.  Joey (provisional – 8 games played) won two games last months, but one was to a 700 and another to an 800 level opponent, so his rating jumped over a hundred points.  One of those games was against me, and I had won it.  Why do they even start them out that low?

I started this game out, a bit mentally tired, and played the opening passively.  He played an early d3, then I should have played …Bc5, but played my blitz move instead, …h6, though knowing I was just giving him Be3, and I’d likely shut my bishop in.  I began to play my way into it.

18…Bf6?  This was my longest think of the game.  I debated between this move and 18…Bg5.  Ironically, my blitz move would have been 18…d5!, but then I saw I’m dropping the e5 pawn (which I also do in blitz), however he would also be dropping the e4 pawn, which I missed.  The coming closed nature of the position was hard on me, and I was quite relieved when he exchanged pawns in the center, freeing Black’s game.

It got tactically tricky, trying to win this game, and he was seeing a lot, a lot more than he should be seeing according to his rating.

I should have taken his a-pawn straight-away after …Rc2+, but we were both in time pressure.  I got down to 36 seconds, and he got down to a minute and a half.  Naturally, I was happy when he moved his king to stop the pawn, and took my passed pawn.  I wasn’t sure if the pawn ending was winning, and this is what got me down to the 36 seconds, but it was enough time spent on this move to have calculated everything out, and that is what I did.




Round 1

Friday Night Quick Chess

Round 1

I expected Will to play 12.Be2, when he chose a more unfortunate move and then resigned.  After 12.Be2, it would have actually been tough to find a strongest move for Black, but Houdini recommends 12…Bf5, which I like.  Black basically tries to hold onto the extra pawn while maintaining as healthy a position as possible.

Round 2

In this game, I had planned to play 20.Nd4.  I looked at 20.Qa7, then realized it would drop the Be4, after 20…Rb7, then thought it would be better if I let him take my queen first, and in doing so forgot about the Nb3.  I had started moving more quickly before this, even though I had 13 minutes, and he had started moving quickly as well.  As soon as I dropped the piece, we both just started blitzing, and then I dropped another piece, I couldn’t keep up with the threats, visually.  If I had started out the game blitzing, this probably wouldn’t have happened, but since I fatigued a little from the first 15 minutes of playing more slowly, suddenly trying to switch to blitz mode just didn’t work.

Positions like this are more dangerous for White, I think.  It’s equal, but there are more considerations, and a natural tendency is to think you should be playing for advantage as White.  In a sharper line, you have too look deeper, but don’t get caught up in a bunch of side-line considerations the way you can in an equal position.  This is something I learned.

In the post-mortem, I exchanged queens then played 21.Nc5, so he played ..Ne2+ and …Nc3, so he won that too, convincingly.  We even played some line where he forgot to put his piece back on the board, and he beat me there too, forcing a passed pawn I didn’t think he could force.  So he far more dangerous a quick player than I, ability-wise.  Naturally, I have some ideas how to play him differently next time.

Mysteriously, he took far too much time in his game against Teah.  He was up two pieces, then dropped one, then being down to ten seconds allowed the mate rather than trying to stop it or flag, and so he lost, and actually finished out of prize-money since he’s over 1800.  Me and Teah tied for 2nd.

Round 3

I was winning this game, but in time-pressure had to stop writing the moves down, and then we were both blitzing even though she was up over ten minutes on the clock.  I let her queen get to a7 and win my a6 pawn, then she was close to winning, but let me do a swindle on her queen, then I was almost mating her but she found an only move that I didn’t see, then it was her two rooks and passed pawn vs my queen and passed pawn.  Black was the only one with winning chances, but I had 3 seconds left and so forced the perpetual check.  I think White could maybe draw with best play, but this the fate of quick-chess, a lot of things that should get played out don’t.

Round 4

Both weeks of quick-chess I broke even, got my EF back, so it was a worthwhile endeavor getting experience playing faster.



Book Recommendations

A 1300 rated player just asked me for book recommendations, and here was my response:

I think if someone is really seeing themselves in that way as 1300 and wanting to improve (rating, I suspect, since one can improve other ways without improving rating for quite a while), then CT-Art software is probably the most efficient way to drill tactics, but also a good book on tactics (any book on tactics will probably do) like Combination Challenge will help a lot.

Rating is a lot about “deliberate practice”, IMHO, whereas reading a game-collection, for example, will increase your understanding of the game, but won’t increase your rating so much unless it’s done in a deliberate way such as mentally guessing the next move before you see what was played. As you get stronger, you can go deeper into the game, whipping out the first few moves, and then playing “guess the move” at a later, more critical moment in the game, and also in more technical positions.

I was going to recommend this book as a top recommendation for you, but for some reason it’s price has jumped way up recently, I see: But here is a really cheap book on exercises that is great for the 1300 rated player:

When it comes to books, I always want to get treated as if I am your fellow Expert or higher. lol. Great books for 1300 would include Alekhine’s 107 Great Chess Battles – he puts in some notes, but it’s even better for a guess-the-move style of going over it, since the moves are listed linearly down the page and can be easily covered up (good for deliberate practice). I would recommend, though, Gligoric’s book “I Play Against Pieces”. Gligoric’s book is really great for not bogging you down in lines, but instead really focusing on getting you to look at strong technical moves – one of the strongest technical players of all time, and I can’t think of a stronger technical player to learn from that side of the millenium. Strongly recommend Gligoric’s book as he will point out some of the simpler considerations that are not always common-sense for many of us, or simple tactics which you might not have noticed, but were thinking “why didn’t he do this?” type stuff.

I mostly look for books that expand my mind or skillset a bit. “Chess the Adventurous Way” by Jan Timman is excellent, but not exactly 1300 level material, so it’s more appreciated a little later. If you want to take on something really challenging, Alekhine’s Best Games is great, though over 1300 level, but he is a great teacher.

Some books may get recommended but that I would steer clear of would be, for example, Tal’s Life and Games. This was a great biography, and worth reading for that reason alone, but his style of annotation was such that I didn’t like it so much, went over his games on chessgames, but his annotations were always answering questions that I was never be asking in my mind, like he would tell why he didn’t do some weird lines that only a space-alien would be considering. lol. Okay, I exaggertate, but that is often the feeling I got. I actually prefer other people’s annotations of Tal’s games, which makes him the exception to the rule for me.




The Ragozin Defense

Final Round of the Colorado Springs City Championship.

LM Brian Wall said he never had an 1800 rating, he went from 1700’s to 1900, completely skipping 1800’s.  Well, me and fellow 1800’er, Mark, dueled it out for a chance at one of the last prizes.

I’ve never played the the Black side of the Ragozin before, not online nor in a tournament.  I do have a book on this opening, and was wondering if I’d ever get one in, OTB.

I should mention that here is a website that I like to hang out on, and here is the latest post where I commented there:

If you got here from there, the Medieval Costume Tournament where WGM Katerina Nemcova attended was in my previous post.

I played on Wednesday night as well, here is the score of that game:

Round 1

Sometimes there are those games were it simply comes down to ignoring a critical idea.  In this game, my …f6, to grab some initiative, was correct.  However, Dean kept refraining from playing b4, as did I from playing …a5, and other than for the one move which failed for tactical reasons 16.Qg5??, that made the difference in the game.

Actually, after 12.QxNd2, most games should end in a draw.  It must be unusual that we had a batch of draws together from this sort of position about two years back, but hardly any since then.