donderdag 25 mei 2017



How come that I one day beat a 2000+ elo rated player and the next day I have it extreme difficult to draw a 1400+ elo rated player? How comes that my playing strenght fluctuates so hard?

Where is the consistency? How does one be consistent? Is there a handy tool to learn to be consistent?

Is there a book that handles this topic consistency?

Please help!

Have fun playing chess.

maandag 15 mei 2017

Question Time

Last friday evening nothing stood on the program of my chess club. So we gathered just to play some blitz and have some conversation between a pint of beer or some cool beverage or some coffee or hot chocolate.

I saw my chance and ask our best players the question we, patzers, want to know.
What does it take to become a 2000+ rated player. Our 2394, 2180, 2028 and 1980 rated players answer the question. What follows is a summary of what they said.

1. Make no one move blunder

Think always minimum 1.5 moves ahead. Your move, the BEST answer of your opponent, your BEST reply. 

2. Boardvision

Always know where the pieces stand and what they are doing.

3. Patern recognision

Knowing paterns, like for example the basic mates, helps you to come up with best moves. They are you guidance to find the best moves.

4. Know the tactical devices

Knowing the tactical devices like pin, skewer, double attack, magnet, luring, ... makes your play more active and makes it easier for you to find combinations.

5. Last but not least ... don't be affraid and have fun

Don't be affraid, play your game no matter against who you are playing. Have fun playing chess.

Have fun playing chess!!!

maandag 8 mei 2017

My new favorite chess author

Forget about Jeremy Silman. Forget about Dan Heisman. Forget about John Nunn, Forget ...

Here is ...

Charles Hertan

Fide master from Massachusetts who has been teaching kids for more than thirty years. He has written a chess book for advanced players called Forcing Chess Moves: The key to Better Calculation, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Chess Book of the Year Award and won the Chesscafe Book of the Year Award.

Charles Hertan is the perfect chess teacher for kids. He has a great grasp of the material and, even more importantly, he makes learning chess fun, and understandable for kids of all ages.

Many of his books may have "for Kids" in the title but are also very readable for adults aswell. I as a 44 year old adult love his writing. Maybe I am still a big kid. Or it is the fact that my motherlanguage isn't english that makes his books so intresting and funny to read.

Have fun playing chess!

woensdag 3 mei 2017

Help wanted

A. Team competition is over

My chess club, Rokade Westerlo, has had a good team competition season this year. 

Regional team championship

In the regional competition (I think US players can compare this with a state team championship) the first team ended second in first division. The second team, the team I played in, became champion in the third division and promotes to second division. Our third team ended third in the fifth division.

National team championship

Here we only had one goal, namely to promote the first team to second division. 

The second and third team played in fifth division. Third team, our youth team, ended seventh. Not a bad result knowing that this was the first time that 3 our of 5 players played games longer then 30 0.

The second team ended fourth. Which is ok, but maybe next year we must think of playing for promotion to fourth division from the start of the competition.

Our first team didn't start that good. Losing 3 matchpoints in the first four rounds didn't give a good feeling. However, from round 5 to 10 all matches were won and so the team stood first after ten rounds. The final round our first team had to play against the second team in the standings. A draw match result was enough for our team. Helas, a draw was never in the books. Our first team didn't look back and got a surprisingly and big win of 5,5-0,5. Promotion to second division is a fact. The celebration party afterwards was fun!

B. Help wanted

Preparing for tournament

Now that the team competitions are over, and I am not playing in the club championship, I have plenty of time to prepare myself for the 40th Eastman Open International chess tournament Ghent  in july. 

However, I am not sure how one prepares for such tournament. I need your help.  Please put your answers on the following questions in the comments.

1. Openings

A. Openings are not important at our level. Only when you have more then 2100 elo it's time to study openings.

B. With the three golden opening rules, development, centre and King safety one get already far at our level.

C. Update the openings you already play with the newest theory.

D. Create an entire new opening repertoire.

2. Endgame

A. Just learn the basic endgames.

B. Learn the book 100 endgames you must know.

C. Learn the book Silman's complete endgame course.

D. I suggest you read ........chess endgame book.

3. Middlegame

A. Play over as much titled player games as possible

B. Play over as much titled player games as possible which start with the openings you play.

C. Read Reassess your Chess or another chess book that learns you a good chess thought proces.

D. Just learn tactics.

4. Playing Games

A. Don't play games while preparing for a tournament.

B. Play blitz games online, 5 a 10 games a day/week.

C. Play rapid games online. 5 a 10 games a day/week.

D. Play only correspondence games online.

Have fun playing chess!

woensdag 19 april 2017

Straight from the newsroom

Chess study

I have to admit that my chess study is almost nihil. One reason is that I am trying to implement what I learned so far from the book How to tune your chess tactics Antenna. I must admit, I am a slow learner. But this book has opened my eyes concerning my chess play, learned lots. The author Emmanuel Nieman is a very good teacher and writer. So far I can only give this book an A+, a must buy/read.

Another reason is that I got extra work at work. I am now also responsable for acountancy and human resource. Not easy jobs to get on your plate, certainly not if you know almost nothing about it and have to start learning those things from scratch. But it's fun learning those things so I dont complain much.

And third and last reason is that I feel very tired when I come home from work. If I dare to sit on my couch for a few minutes I fall asleep. But sitting in front of my computer I also notice that I drift of to dreamland instead of being focussed of what I am doing.

New rating

In Belgium a new rating list comes out every three months. The rating list of march made me drop three points from 1841 to 1838. Only three games were calculated since one of the team tournaments I played in ended to late to be calculated.

With a score of 2.0 out of 3 (wins against 1551, 1583 and a painfull loss against 1805) I expected to be about equal, but helas it seems that a win against 1550+ gives me considerably less points then that I loose points with a loss against 1800.

So now I am in doubt if my 7.0 out of 8 score I had in the team tournament that ended to late will be enough to win some ratingpoints. Will wins against not clasified, 1555, 1605, 1622, 1657 and 1703 rated players be enough to gain more rating points then I lose with draws against 1555 and 1747 rated players? Fingers crossed.

Rapid tournament

The past weekend I played in the rapid tournament (groups of 8 players, single round robin, 15 minutes per game per player) organized by my club. The groups are made by rating points, meaning that the highest eight ratings form group 1, the following eight the second group, ... .

With 1838 elo rating (national rating) I was second seed of group three (ratings between 1850 - 1720) which ment that I had good chances to end first or second in my group and get one of the two prizes for this group (first prize 40 euros, second prize 20 euros). I started well with 3,5/4 and got the sole lead. I misplayed a pawn endgame against the lowest rated player.

A drink and eat break of 15 minutes followed.

As usual, after the break I played a miserable game. Lack of focus? Still kicking myself when I think about it. Helas, this was against the co-leader and so my chances to win my group became very small. With another draw and win I ended my tournament with the score of 4 wins (against seed 1, 3, 6 and 7) 2 draws (against seeds 5 and 8) and 1 loss (against seed 4). A total of 5,0 out of 7. Not a bad score but helas a half point to short for first place. But good enough for second place and the 20 euro prize.

Have fun playing chess!!

dinsdag 11 april 2017

Playing against lower rated opponents

Back online

My computer is back from hospital. After many tests the diagnose was that the hard disk had problems. The doctors had to perform major surgery, handling the scalpel with great precision. I am lucky my computer still fell under the 5 years assurance I got when I bought it. So it didn't cost me a penny to get it fixed.

I am happy I can get this blog rolling again. Not that what I write is so schocking or world changing. Just want to follow the rules of the book challenge as good as I can and is possible.

Playing against lower rated opponents

The last three months I only played against lower rated opponents. In every game I had atleast 100 rating points more. Easy points for you I hear you say. But nothing is further from the thruth. 

Rated below 2100 elorating everybody can win from everybody, it's that simple. It's only when one goes above 2100 rating that a different kind of chess is played. One sees rarely that a 2100+ rated player loose of a 100 points lower rated player while it's not so exceptional that players with a rating below 2100 rating lose of players 100 ratingpoints below them. Atleast that is my experience.

That I scored a result of 9.0/11 is special and unexpected. But I had prepared myself to get a good result. Not by studying 1000 lines of opening theory or studying in great depth the endgame or know by heart all tactical possibilities or ... . No, I just prepared myself mentally.

Don't be stupid, play chess!

Keep in mind that these tips are for players rated under 2100 elo rating.

1. Use your time. Chess is a marathon, not a sprint. Finding good moves, moves dictated by the position dont come immediatly, one has to search for them.

2. Keep it simple! In complicated position it can be that your opponent feels like a fish in water while you have troubles finding good moves and so it's you who make the blunder(s) and not your opponent. If you are really higher rated then your opponent you should be able to out calculate him/her.

3. Never underestimate your opponent! Rating doesn't say everything. Having a lower rated opponent doesn't mean that you will have an easy time at the chess board. Expect a long and hard battle.

A lower rated opponent doesn't mean that you know more about chess then your opponent. His or her knowlegde of chess might be even bigger then yours. I have had lower rated opponents that were better booked in openings and endgame then me. I have played against lower rated opponents that were tactically much better then me. Only when it comes to implementing this knowlegde into playing chess you might be a bit better and hence get a higher rating.

Or it can be that your lower rated opponent just had a bad string of results making his rating lower then yours. Or your opponent is a youth player, who had bad results at the beginning of his chess career but is now taking big steps in improvement with his/her rating swings up to 150 points. Or it can be that your lower rated opponent is an older guy who is slowly going down in rating but in his highdays had a rating of 2100+, who still has the occasional good day of high quality chess playing, but who mostly gets tired around the third hour and then starts to blunder.

So just always play your A-game! Play the best you can! If you then loose you cant blame yourself anything. You did your best but your opponent was stronger. Beter luck next game.

Have fun!

woensdag 15 maart 2017

To much energy .... are you superstitious?

Last friday I went to my chess club to play an official game. As second board of Westerlo 2 I would have the black pieces against somebody of team Oude God 2. Full of energy I arrived at the club to see nobody was there. What the hell was going on? Nobody to setup the boards and clocks? A quick check on my cellphone revealed that I was one week to early.

Darned, here I was, full of energy, how to release that energy? Lucky for me one of the higher rated players of my chess club, who arrived a little later, wanted to play some 5 minutes chess. I began good with two victories, then lost six games in a row, to come back with two victories before I lost four games again, and so lost this little match with 4 against 10.

Sunday the match Chesslooks 1 versus Westerlo 2 stood on the program. I was first board player. So much confidence by our general team leader, high honours.During the drive towards Lier, hometown of Chesslooks, I pepped myself up to have a high energy.

When ariving at the playing hall the captain of Chesslooks had bad news about there first board. He was rushed to the emergency room twenty minutes before the start of the game with pain in the chest. We hope that he recovers quickly. But it ment that I would win by forfait. With other words, me, full of energy but no way to release it since I would win by forfait. After the official hour was over and my game was declared win by forfeit I took a little stroll into Lier while releasing so now and then a curse word. Energy lost.

Afterall a very disapointing weekend. Ready to play two official chess games and non played. Not what I expected it to be.

So when I started this blog post I wondered what to write about? The only thing I could think of is the question "Is a chess player superstitious"?

I have heared about, seen, smelled, players who didn't changed clothes during a nine days tournament as long they didn't lose no matter how warm or wet the weather was. Others had the same pre game routine as long they didn't lose. Some continued to eat the same breakfast day after day until their first loss. Some would drink the same beverage (bier, cola, lemonade, water, ...) until their first lost game and then change to another beverage until ... .

For some the knights and bishops had to stand in a certain way on the board. Some used the same pen until ..., once the first loss a new pen was used until ... . Certain players used long notation until they lost a game, then short notation was used. And so on and on and on.

Are you superstitious? Answer in the comments!