Moved to Colorado

Hardly cemented in here yet. Temporarily staying at my mother’s until I get a place. If there is a tournament here next month on Wednesday’s, I’ll try that out.


Forcing Sequences

I’m trying to make this my new style, and it’s practically straight out of the MDLM pdf.

It’s working well, this latest fad try. I just had to post because who the heck dismantles a French Exchange var, as Black, in 18 moves? It’s not right, I tell ya. 😉 Tactics triumphing a typical vanilla strategy by White. It’s not always best play, but I feel it is most important for me to improve tactically/calculatorial than any other, so I’ve adopted this style.


Below is a comment I wrote down yesterday, I’ll post it here:

Title: Move selection process

First, check your moves, can you or your opponent single-attack? Can either player double-attack, particularly after your own candidate move? Do this first because it saves time and is less likely to lead to distractions or flights-of-fantasy.

Everything that you “know” about chess should have been intuitively absorbed already, so this isn’t part of the process of checking your moves.

The reason to check for tactics first is that it’s natural for the human mind to superimpose strategy (order) over the “chaos” on the board. When you super-impose strategy, it’s actually more of an artificial, abstract, overlay concept than the direct threats and tactics at hand. The human brain naturally wants to superimpose order, and use intution and subconscious knowledge to guide and give meaning to what is happening on the board. BUT a knight-fork is a knight-fork, and a check is a check, and a double-attack is a double-attack, regardless of the themes (theme being a human invention) of what is occuring at the board.

My landlord is an engineer; he told me read that when babies are born, they do not have much depth perception, it is actually something the brain learns. IOW, the brain naturally tries to super-impose meaning. In this case, the meaning is quite useful. They have done tests with kids and monkeys in regards to learning. Monkeys learn what is actual, what is real, only do something if it makes sense. Children will actually retain useless/irrelevant information that they are taught (probably because they know they are subconsciously trying to please the teacher, not just do the thing). People naturally super-impose meaning, but I think chess is really mainly about spotting the tactics that are there, and then calculating them. And yet, it is true that you can “guide” yourself into a win using knowledge, particularly when you have more knowledge/understanding than the other player, and neither of you are playing tactically superior to the other.

If you wonder why I came up with this post, it’s importance, the other day I was playing a “1988” player on FICS at the time (he disconnected, so I won afterwards), but he hung a rook. I knew he had to move the rook initially, but began thinking about the move he actually made. About 2 minutes later I needed to know where his rook was going, was it going to attack or defend, it could not do both. Then I realized, wait a minute, whose move is it?? He never moved his rook, I can simply take with pawn. Funny because even when I was analyzing I was thinking, “well, he has to move his rook since it’s under attack”. Doh!

Chess is like Business

There is an old adage in business that goes “Ideas are worthless”. IOW, it’s all about execution.

What amazes me so much from playing lots of opponents on the internet is how well that most players are able to spot the “killer idea” in a position. Then the difference between the win and loss usually turns into who pulls off their ideas better. Preparation, should I prepare the idea, should I not, or should I look it off entirely? Or even, is this the right idea given other circumstances that have taken place on the board? Will this idea essentially override other factors at the end of the day?

If we just read chess books for ideas, how much would our rating really improve? Probably not much, because the execution of the ideas are nearly a separate issue. Ideawise, I can learn just as much from a B player at times as from an Expert. I don’t think higher-rating = more idea-savvy, I think it simply means better execution. Sometimes, say at the GM brilliancy level, the execution is so much better that the ideas also become better.

When I was a totally weak chessplayer, I loved that I was always learning new ideas. I would not even calculate something because I did not think such an idea was possible. Now it’s like, okay, me and my opponents are seeing the (same) ideas, but who is calculating them better? The “video-game” element of chess becomes lessened and it becomes more about who wants to do their “homework” on the position more. Playing the Black pieces definitely seems to require more of this “homework” at the board. Luckily, both players usually miss the finer elements of attack/defense tactical possibilities and rather focus in on the key elements. I’m still appalled at how many of my games are ultimately decided by tactical accuracy, not ideas, regardless of whether the position was winning or losing at the time.

What it means is that playing against better players can actually be more boring because they are simply going to calculate it accurately. You could just about save your money and play Fritz. hehe.

I mean, I still remember the time I put some of Alekhine’s games against Crafty and on one game by like move 38 he had a .25 advantage or something against “Joe the Plumber”. Joe blunders and the rest of the game is history. Of course Alekhine was brilliant in bamboozling his opponents with tactics and such, but sometimes I think it’s naive that we are always going to find “better ideas” from their games, rather than mostly better execution. Of course the super GMs are brilliant and have these amazing games that we can all appreciate and think to ourselves “Wow, I could never have done that!” and yes, that is what makes them so fun.

I just played a game on FICS against an 1860 level player. After the game I studied the position and came up with the correct idea. Interestingly, Crafty thought it was dead even (my idea) until a couple moves into it, when it suddenly became winning. So I figured out the correct idea after a long think after the game, but Crafty can out-execute me, seemingly effortlessly.

My judgment relies on execution, but also intuition because there are so many response lines to look at that you would have to visualize quickly like Crafty to see so many of these side-lines. Incidentally, in my last game against ksv, the right idea was Bd3 followed by f5 threatening f6, a stock idea in that position with Bg7 and Ne7, but it’s calculating the execution of it is theoretically dense in terms of move lines. The hard part is determining the right stock-idea, and then calculating out why it should work. For example, someone might try to use the stock idea of Qd2, then Bh6 in that position, but that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere; the emphasis should be on the light-squares insted.


I am moving to Colorado Springs in a few days, so I did not play on Saturday; I will have a part-time job as soon as I get there.

Okay, so the ACIS and rating improvement thing is the viral blog subject these days.

Here is my take on my own progress – I am a much better player now than a year ago. OH, BTW, my FICS rating is much lower, too. So why so chummy? When I was 1860 on FICS, I would not only stick to the script, openings-wise, but I played at time controls like 10 20 or 15 15 or 15 20. Now I play at 15 5, sometimes 15 0, sometimes longer. Back then when I finished a game, it was not unusual to have 1.2 seconds on my clock. Now when I finish a game, it’s not unusual to have 8 or 9 minutes or more. When I blunder tactically, I usually sense that I am doing so and simply being sloppy. I can feel where the error is much better, but sometimes Crafty is still great at showing me a tactic that I missed. But here’s the thing, I sense the flow of the game more correctly than a year ago.

Often someone is on a rating high or low due to performance, not due to exact strength. Even strength is a touchy thing, because some people can calculate well or be great at tactics and still not have great positional skills when a solid threat is not in play.

Improvement at chess is straightforward, analyze the games you play with a chess-engine afterward. It seems when people don’t have time, they buy books, and when they do have time they play and their rating goes up (unless “all” they do is play OTB and not analyze much afterward).

Going forward, I will be playing less OTB chess, possibly a game a week. I fulfilled my objective of getting used to playing OTB and improving my game. I feel Expert strength, even if I am not. I’ll have to focus more on making money for a living now.

Why do some people not improve rating-wise? My parting shot is that you frequently have 3 types of players. Players that play and improve, players that don’t play much (a lot of blogs) but are sufficiently introspective, and players that play but are probably not introspective enough when analyzing their games. Heck, some of the opponents I played approached chess with a definite “angle”, so I don’t see them all as true “universal” style chessplayers, which means I don’t know how exactly they analyze their games since the style is not necessarily all objective, goal-wise.

Another thing is that there are “human” ways to improve one’s game using different moves. I love going through Fritz analysis of an alternate move, and some people choose ones where you can learn quite a bit from, but are you really going to play like that and find those moves next time? We miss a lot of these grandiose moves, but I feel MDLM was right that we mostly lose because we miss a lot of one-mover type errors, or flick a move out there too fast, that sort of thing. It’s not always “Oh gee, why didn’t I see that 5-move continuation starting with the sacrifice of material/position/time/space/etc? (slaps self on head)”