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!

woensdag 8 maart 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: In sickness...

In sickness...

The last week and half I was sick, battling the flu. All I could do was


Chess wasn't on my mind, never thought for a second about it.

... and in healt

TYCTA: Signal 2: Unprotected Pieces

Today was the first day back in 100% healt. Time to study again. in an earlier post I described the first signal namely King Position. The second signal is Unprotected Pieces. Now what can we do with this signal?

Here we must learn about that tactic "double attack". What is a double attack? Is the tactic in which one attacks two targets threatening to make a benificial capture on the next move since all attacks cannot be met. Beginners mistakenly think that both targets are pieces. Wrong offcourse.

Targets of attack

1. The king (check or mate threat)
An attack on the king always forces the opponent to react at once.

2. Material is the target
An attack on a piece is less forcing than an attack on the king. An attack on material (pieces and pawns) makes sense when they are: unprotected, pieces with higher value or insufficient protected pieces

3. A square is the target
The third target is an attack on a square. It must be an important square! For example a mating square. It's not important wheter these squares are empty or occupied.

Some examples

? - ?

Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1.£e4Threatens mate on h7 as well as 2. Qxe7 so the black bishop is lost because

? - ?

Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1...£g5

? - ?

Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1.¦d1 The rook attacks the bishop. However the bishop cannot move because it would be mate in two.
1...¥b5 2.¦d8+ ¥e8 3.¦xe8#
Have fun!

dinsdag 28 februari 2017

Really? a Yusupov Challenge?

Sometimes you must see what the opponent is up to. So I surfed to the Quality Chess blog and discovered that Jacob Aagaard is promoting a Yusupov Challenge (click link to read what it is all about). I may not join this challenge, like stated in the rules of QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE.

Like commentartors on this Yusupov Challenge blog post I find Jacob Aagaard's plan rather ambitious. I would never expect me saying this but I am in disagreement with a grandmaster. Me, a chess patzer, lover of the game of chess, worshipper of Caissa, disagrees with a person that propably saw Caissa face to face.

Jacob writes that one must read one book a month. Which is about one chapter per day which is easily done. He gives twenty minutes for reading the theory and about 40 minutes to solve the twelve exercises. So only one hour a day to spend on chess. Who can be against that?

I am not against the methode, but I think there is a big problem with it. Jacob only speaks of reading, not learning. With other words, I wonder if people who use this proposed methode still know after chapter 10 or 15 what they have read the first three to five chapters? It's easy to read, it's much more difficult to really understand it and correctly use it during a chess game.

So while the persons stepping into the Yusupov Challenge will probably improve in chess because they are busy for an hour per day with chess but it will be little. They occasionally will pick up some of the stuff Yusupov describes in his books but the majority will be lost after a short period of time.

Offcourse, I hope that many Yusupov Challenger contestants will prove me wrong. I hope that I will hear many succes stories. People raising their ratings with 200 points. People showing wonderfull combinations on the chess board. People looking at me and showing of their brand new FM title.

I can only give one advise, have fun! That is always the most important part of any challenge you will undertake.

Good luck and may Caïssa be with you!

vrijdag 24 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: TYCTA: Signal 1: King position

Looking for signals
After my disasterous chess weekend it was time again to dive back in the book Tune your chess tactics antenna. To stay on topic of the antenna, author Emmanuel Neiman, talks about signals instead of weaknessess. There are seven signals, today we gonna speak about signal 1: King Position.

The king is the most important chess piece on the board. A succesfull attack against the king ends the game. This is the only signal that can lead to a forced win, the other signals, which we will talk about in later blog posts just point to ways of gaining material. We cannot sacriface more then we hope to get back, while in order to deliver checkmate, we can afford to give anything.

Lets move on to an example.

The position of the black king is not that good, it's blocking the rook on h8. The knight on d8 is poorly placed, it hampers the rook on a8. But the most important point is that there is a checkmate when the white rook reaches e8.

This is how we have to think!!!

We have picked up the signal, which is the most important point. We can now examine the forced continuations that may allow the mate to come on the board.

Gligoric, Svetozar - Rosenstein, Julis

Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] The mate on e8 is defended by the bishop on e7 and the queen on d7. Our plan is clear now. We now can examine the forced combinations (elimination, deflection, decoy, pin, ... ) that remove those two pieces from their defensive task..1.£xe7+ £xe7One obstacle removed, now only the queen defends.We might take it, this is good enough by the way, but not the strongest, because the black king would get some breathing space on d7. Another idea is to deflect the black queen from the defence of e8, and we can do so with2.¥d6 Making use of the pin 2...£xd6 Black would also be lost after all other moves, because he cannot defend the queen. 3.¦e8#

A Chess player should know all the classical mating patterns (Arabian or Arabic mate, mate of Anastasia, Boden's mate, ...) by heart so he will be able to spot them by anticipation, before the position might allow their realization.

A good way to start is by going to the blog of James Stripes named Chess skills. In the right sidebar (scroll a little down) you will find his pamphlet "Checklist of checkmates" which contains a great deal of all classical mating patterns.

Have fun!

woensdag 22 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: A strange weekend, games that learned me plenty

Last weekend I had to play two official games. The first game was for the silver rook competition. A team championship  at the provincial level. I guess it's comparable with what americains call a state team championship.

The game follows for a long time the draw path although it doesn't look that way. I learned that I have to improve my board vision. I have to see the whole board instead of only the kingside like in this game.

Verduyckt, Johan (1841) - Guldentops, Pierre (1670)

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: 2017.02.17
[...] 1.d4 e6 2.¤f3 f5 3.¥f4 ¤f6 4.¤bd2 ¥e7 5.h3Played to put the bishop away if black plays Nh55...O-O 6.e3 d6 7.¥c4 £e8 8.c3 ¥d8
8...¢h8 9.£e2 ¥d8 10.O-O ¤c6 11.¥h2 a6 12.¦fd1 e5 13.dxe5 ...0-1, Korosparti Sandor 2116 - Ladanyine-Karakas Eva, Hungary 1992 Ch Hungary (team)
8...h6 9.£c2 ¥d8 10.O-O-O ¤c6 11.¦dg1 ¤e4 12.g4 d5 13.¥d3 ...1-0, Pilny Jiri - Kaiser Rudolf 1945 , Ricany 24/ 8/2011 It (open)
9.£c2 ¢h8 10.O-O ¤c6 11.¥h2 £h5 12.¥g3 Dont ask me why I keep playing on the kingside and not try to attack on the queenside, I dont know. Probably my old weakness playing up, seeing only one part of the board instead of the whole board. (12.b4 a6 13.a4 g5 14.b5 ¤e7) 12...¤e4 13.¤xe4 fxe4 14.¤h2 (14.¤d2 Is probably better) 14...£g6 15.¥e2 ¤e7 16.£d1 No plan, just wanted to chase the black queen around 16...¤f5 17.¥f4 £e8 18.¢h1 Still playing on the kingside, it's as if the queenside doesn't exist. 18...e5 19.dxe5 dxe5 20.¥g3 ¥f6 21.¤g4 ¤xg3+ 22.fxg3 ¥xg4 23.¥xg4 ¦d8 24.£c2
24.£b3 £c6 25.¦ad1 is a little bit better for white then the played move
24...¦d3 Didn't even see this move coming. So many blind spots in my board vision. 25.¦ae1 ¥g5 26.¥f5 ¦xe3 27.¦xe3 ¥xe3 28.£xe4 ¥b6 29.¦e1 ¥f2 30.¦d1 ¥xg3 31.¥xh7 £h5 32.£d3 ¦f6
32...£xh7 33.£xg3 Is maybe better for black to get the e-pawn promoted?
33.¥e4 ¦d6 34.¦f1 ¥f4 35.£b5 b6 36.£a6 Totally missing (36.¦xf4) 36...¦d8 37.£c4 c5 38.¥c2 £g5 39.£e4 £h6
39...g6 is a little bit better because the black king gets more freedom
40.£f5 +0.77* 40...¢g8 And my opponent's flag fell. So game over. Nevertheless I would win black's bishop here by playing 43. g3
The second game I played good for 17 moves. Then took my malicious mind over and it got from worse to deadly wounded.

Lagendijk, Ivo (1802) - Verduyckt, Johan (1841)

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: 2017.02.19
[...] 1.¤f3 d5 2.g3 ¤f6 3.¥g2 ¤bd7 4.d3 e5 5.O-O ¥d6 6.e4 dxe4 7.dxe4 O-O 8.¤c3 h6 9.¥e3 b6 10.¤h4 ¦e8 11.¤f5 ¥f8 12.£e2 ¥b7 13.¦fd1 £c8 14.¥h3 ¥c6 15.£f3 £b7 16.¤d5 ¥xd5 17.¦xd5 ¤xd5 18.exd5 And here my malicious brain took over. Malicious: Develop your knight to it's natural developing square No need to think about it, natural is good. So I lashed out 18...¤f6 19.¤xh6+ Do not panic, it's a knight for a knight. 19...gxh6 20.£xf6 Malicious: Grab that pawn, it's free, it's delicious, a pawn is a pawn. 20...£xd5 Normal me: (20...¥g7 Is offcourse better then the move played) 21.¥g2 Malicious: Woops, a skewer. But we will not go down. We can defend with 21...e4 22.¥d4 Eeeks, threatening mate. Ah, we can run, but can we hide? 22...¢h7 23.£h8+ ¢g6 24.£g8+ ¢h5 25.g4+ Malicous: Alright, he didn't see that
25.¥f1 leads always to checkmate, maybe I can get out of this and still win the game. Normal me: I will let my opponent checkmate me, as punishment that I listened to Malicious. Next time keep thinking, each and every move!
25...¢h4 26.¥f6+ £g5 27.¥xg5+ hxg5 28.£h7+ ¢xg4 29.¥h3+ ¢f3 30.£f5+ ¢e2 31.¥g4+ ¢d2 32.£d5+ ¢xc2 33.£b3+ ¢d2 34.¦d1# And my opponent thanked malicious mind.

Now I only have 4,5/6.0 instead 5,5/6.0 . There goes my rating gain. I hope this will not let me loose the challenge.