An unexamined life is not worth living.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making Chess Videos – Microsoft Expression Encoder

So far I had been using CamStudio and Windows Movie Maker for making most of my chess videos, but recent problems with capturing audio from speakers (I basically could not get it to work on my new PC) made me look for another solution. I found Microsoft Expression Encoder tool suite to be quite easy to use and functional (capturing audio from speakers “just worked”). The only limitation is that the capture tool’s free version is limited to 10 minutes. I presume that can be worked around by compositing 2 captures, and by talking faster! As an extra feature, Encoder allows to amplify output volume, which is something that had a lot difficulties with in the past.

image The capture tool is easy to use and configure.

image The encoding tool looks quite sophisticated, but generates output faster than Windows Movie Maker!


image This control allows for adjusting output volume!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Play Like Botvinnik – attacking on the entire board

In both games below, Botvinnik already has a dominating position, but has to find new areas of the board where he can put pressure on the opponent.

Botvinnik – Lilienthal, 1936
image White to move. View the entire game here

The game is fully covered in this video:

Botvinnik – Zagoriansky, 1943
image White to move. View the entire game here

I also made a YouTube video about the second game:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Attacking with An Isolated Pawn – Botvinnik’s trademark

Botvinnik – Batuev, 1931

image White to move

Mikhail Botvinnik was well known for his handling of positions with Isolated Queen’s Pawn. Here as well, he slowly built up the pressure and opponent faltered. Black had just played 17 …Ra8-c8?, exposing himself to an unexpected sacrifice. Botvinnik fully took advantage of his pieces being very active. Replay through the game here.

image Mikhail Botvinnik in 1933

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Play Like World Champion - Botvinnik vs. Alatortsev

Botvinnik – Alatortsev, 1934

image White to move

White delayed castling, and is putting pressure on h7. Botvinnik begins an attack with a manoeuvre that was novel at the time, but today became a standard practice, in this and in many other openings. See the complete game here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blink – the Power of Intuition in Chess

Reading the book “Blink”, I could not help thinking about how it relates to chess. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell discusses how certain decisions can be correctly made with only minimal amount of thinking. It also gives examples where extra time taken to make a decision lead to worse results. The author also suggests the following:

In complex situations, quick intuitive decisions are often more likely to be correct than those based on a lot of complex analysis.

In simple situations, logical analysis actually proved useful and led to good results.


The book actually does not use the word “intuition” enough, but decisions made at the blink of an eye - obviously represent a person’s intuition. The above rules work in chess as well. Very often chess annotators point out that a chess player did not play a move that he would have easily played in a blitz game, instead went with a more complicated idea, which unsurprisingly turned out to be wrong. Another common observation is that “A long think usually leads to a bad move”.

To me - this just goes to prove that improving one’s intuition is very useful for blitz games, but will also make you an overall stronger player, save you time on the clock and add to your confidence as a chess player. For further discussion on the role of intuition of chess – read Dvoretsky’s book Attack and Defence In Chess.

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