zondag 2 juli 2017

Call for help: how to get out of passive play?

Recently I was wondering, trying to find out, why I am not already a 2000+ player. If I may believe my friends, also chess players, I have the capacity and knowlegde to easy get to 2000+. There are two things holding me back according those who can know. Namely that I play to fast and that I play to passivly.

Playing to fast was, and is, always my problem. Don't ask me why, maybe because I grew up in chess by playing blitz and rapid? Only at age 16 I joined a chess club and came into contact with long time control games. That my first rating was 1683 elo (and still my lowest rating until this day) and my highest 1969 elo could also be a stumbling block, I got there with my fast play, so why ... ?

Personally I think the real reason is that I am to scared, that I play to passivly at long time control games. I dont dare to go all out, full steam ahead, attack or die.

My ex-teacher, IM Yelena Dembo, always made comments that I didn't dare to play forward. That I made my calculation short by the first sign of trouble instead of calculate a little bit deeper so that I saw the line was still good for me. That each of my moves must have some attack instead of defending against threats that weren't there.

Anyhow, I noticed that it was more fun to play active during my club's blitz- and rapid championship. My opponents talked about how good I played and spectators talked about interesting and wonderfull games to watch. I won both tournaments. I was very pleased with my performance.

Helas, in long time control games I refall in my old habbits. I dont know what to do anymore. Anybody of you, dear readers, have good tips to help me out of this bad habit? Please help!

Have fun while playing!

vrijdag 30 juni 2017

Result! Result? Nah, its love that counts!

Time to write again. I dont know what but I hope it's interesting.

Every three months a new rating list is published in Belgium. Last time I lost 5 rating points, this time I gained 5 points, with other words, I am back at 1843 national rating. One could say a 6 months stand still. No gain, no loss, equality.

The last month I read books, not chess books but books about coaching. Like "Development of chess talent". from Karel Van Delft. A good book, if you are a trainer / coach certainly  a must read. I give chess lessons on sunday at my chess club so ... .

But it learned me also something else. Something I, and I guess also Chris Wainscott, am doing wrong. Namely that we put to much emphasis on result and not on our love for the game. Improvement has nothing to do with result, 1-0 or 0-1 or 1/2-1/2 doesn't matter.

What matters is that one loves the game. Love means doing your best, play a wonderfull game of chess, putting it all out there, doing the hard work that is necessary. Forget about results, forget about rating. If you improve to a certain strenght your rating will follow. So love chess while working on improving and the rest will follow.

Have fun!

maandag 12 juni 2017


I made an account on Lichess so that I can test how quick I can get to 2000+ rating, if I can get to 2000+ that is.

Any bets on how quick, or not at all, I will reach my goal?

Have fun playing chess!

maandag 5 juni 2017

The never ending study

What do you do when it's a heatwave, when even lifting a finger breaks you out in sweat? How on earth could you then focus on chess when your brain is fried by the sun? Praying your home owner gives you airconditioning? Will not help at the moment you need it namely right now.

So with the braincells who still wanted to work, many were on heat strike, I thought why not rewatch the broadcasts of the US Championship 2017 on you tube? That way you wont have to move and you still get great chess entertainment.

So for hours on end I have been seeing Hikaru, Fabian, Wesley, Ray, Var, Nazi, Irena, Anna, Tatev, ... at work while their labour was picked at by Yasser, Jennifer and Maurice. Interesting analysis of positions by a human (Yasser) and a machine (Maurice explaining). It makes me wonder how some become so good at it while many can only shake their head and wonder why they not have that skill?

Practise makes perfect they say. play a lot and even more. But a human cannot base his chess moves only on brute force analyse the entire game like a computer can. He needs knowlegde to base the soundness of his moves and we know that there is plenty of chess knowlegde. So to become good one has to do lots of work, not only during the game but also when not playing.

Studying chess theory for many hours, not only openings- but also middlegame- and endgame techniques, You can study them out of books, or with video lessons or by the explanation of a chess teacher. Doesn't matter how you study as long you do study and try to learn al those techniques so you can remember them by heart.

You will not need  every technique all the time. Sometimes it can take ages before you can apply a learned technique during a chess game. But when the time is there you must know the technique and apply it correctly.

I am lacking in both fields, I have plenty of chess knowlegde, like many of us patzers do, but still there is plenty to learn.  I am also lacking in applying it all the right time and in the correct way, when the position on the board demands it.

To say it with the words of the great chess trainer of India, GM RB Ramesh:

" Progress in chess involves continuous self-introspection, learning new skills and unlearning bad qualities in our thinking process"

Especially the word "continuous" is important here. It"s a never ending chess study, there is always room for improvement.

Have fun playing chess.

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!