chessblogger

An unexamined life is not worth living.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Less Is More When it Comes to Opening Repertoire

Garry Kasparov was notorious for claiming that during his most productive years as an opening researcher, his database of theoretical analysis grew in size by many megabytes. I would not be surprised if these files gave him a competitive advantage over many opponents. For a mere mortal, however, these megabytes of analysis are likely to be a burden for many reasons.
A large opening repertoire
  • takes longer to build in the first place
  • needs to be memorized and recalled during games
  • is more prone to errors in evaluations of critical positions, and as computers get stronger – needs to be periodically reassessed
  • may become useless when chess fashion moves to a different direction, and everybody stops playing those “sharp popular lines”
  • is more difficult to maintain and update over the years, even if it is digital

While you hope a larger opening repertoire gives you more flexibility, usually the reason your opening files grow large – is because your favourite opening lines give opponent a lot of options, and you have to consider all of them in your preparation. The key to making it manageable - is to limit those options by finding early but solid deviations that you are comfortable with, striking a balance between playing sound lines, and not falling into your opponent’s favourite variations.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Playing Chess online – Game Pools with Increments?

I am continuing to play 15 + minute games online in my quest to play 100 “Standard” games online this year, and I prefer games with small increment (15 +2) to avoid being flagged in ridiculously trivial positions, and also to emulate what it’s like to play in real tournaments, which also use increments. I mostly play on ICC, but I am occasionally struggling to find a game with my preferred time controls.

ICC has game pools with 3, 5 and 15 minutes per game, where it’s often easier to quickly find an opponent. image

But there is no 15+2 pool or anything similar, which I think is a shame.

I’d be curious to hear if there is a playing site that has such a feature.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bad Chess Habits

Over the years, especially if those years are filled with routine, somehow most of us acquire bad habits. It takes some conscious mindfulness and cleanup to rid oneself of those harmful repetitive behaviors. Bad Chess habits are not as harmful as smoking or speed driving, but they can destroy one's pleasure from the game. If you are reading this, you very likely play chess for enjoyment, so I suggest pausing to give it some thought.

Here are some that come quickly to my mind:
  1. Using the engine for analysing your games
  2. Book flipping
  3. Chess News reading
  4. Video watching
  5. Excessive blitz playing
  6. Hoarding - books, software, etc
  7. Caring about rating at the expense of improvement
  8. Memorizing opening moves without understanding their meaning
  9. Jumping openings when results don't improve quickly enough
  10. Finding excuses for losses without looking at root problems

The list is definitely not complete, and there is something that is more true for some chess players than for others.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Join a Thousand Other Chess Fans

Recently ChessVideoGuy Youtube channel hit a milestone that I had anticipated for a while, but was pleased to see finally happen, as the thousandth person subscribed to my channel.

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Let me know if there are any particular topics you’d like me to cover in future videos, otherwise, just feel free to watch existing almost 200 videos I made over the last decade, and … subscribe.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Break – Learn from Schlechter, Botvinnik and Kramnik – eBook

This week I published another book that summarizes my findings from many years of analysis and studying a specific chess topic.
ReadOnly-1-Rev-2-cover 
This book presents the games of three positional geniuses and focuses on pawn play and pawn breaks. In this collection you will learn to use unexpected pawn moves for:

  • Opening up files or diagonals
  • Directly attacking opponent's king
  • Gaining space
  • Freeing up a square (e.g. as an outpost for a knight)
  • Undermining opponent's pawn structure/chain
  • Creating a passed pawn

The Break – Learn from Schlechter, Botvinnik and Kramnik is now available in the kindle store and on Kobo.

Here is the table of contents with the links to all the games and training exercises that are analyzed in this ebook:

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Computer Precision in a Historic Endgame – Karpov–Kasparov, 1984, game 9

Karpov – Kasparov 1984 match – game 9
image Black to move
In his recent book, Kasparov comments that 66… Bh1 has not found any refutation yet. It is now possible to say that there never will be any refutation because this 8 piece endgame can be completely pre-computed with FinalGen. It is a draw indeed, and Bh1 is the only move! In the game, Kasparov played Bb7 and lost…
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Studying Chess Openings – How to Track Your Progress

It is not enough to develop an opening repertoire, it also needs to be continuously refined and practiced. Here is a quick tutorial on how to do this with a free version of Chess Position Trainer. I had previously posted a video tutorial on this tool.
Step 1 – Import Repertoire from PGN file
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For now I imported my White Repertoire, which I have been long maintaining in a pgn file/database.
Step 2 – Choose variations to practice
As a starting point, I’d like to limit my practice to Sicilian and Scandinavian defences.
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Step 3 – Track your progress
In training mode – alternate between “Only New” and “Only Learned”
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Right now, I have only practiced 28 positions out of over 3000, so I have long ways to go, but this gives me a clear picture of where I am at!

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