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Archive for December, 2012

Thanks to my readers for their comments about how to do tactics. As mentioned I have started to work on pins, forks and double attacks and solved 68 of them in the range of 1400-1600 on ChessTempo. The 1400er puzzles are pretty simple but the 1500+ gave me some headaches. This was exactly what I was worrying about. You start solving higher rated puzzles that rely more on calculation but fail much easier ones. Or maybe it’s just a lack of focus because I know that the puzzles are not so hard but I really try to solve them to the end. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes not. It seems to be a good training and I will stick to it for some more time. Here is an example:

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My last Team4545League game can be replayed here. After a pretty lucky win in round 3 where my opponent run into a mate-in-1, we fought a more tactical battle. I actually didn’t expect to be able to try out my beloved Benko and I was right. We ended in a sideline and the position was complicated:

diagram044

What to do here? I couldn’t calculate the 20…Nxc4 line to the end so I played the safe 20…Kg8 instead. After 21…Bf5 I already had the next chance to win material and this time it worked out. The endgame wasn’t too difficult after exchanging more pieces and restricting White’s knight. A satisfying win. 🙂

More thoughts about ELO 1800

In my blog I have posted my goal to reach ELO 1800 by summer 2013. I can already say that I won’t be able to reach this goal but I am not worried. I will do a review at the beginning of next year and set a new goal. A big drawback is that I am not able to play many rated OTB games. There are league games from time to time and one or two tournaments but this is not enough. On the other hand I really like the Team4545League and I think I will use my rating there as measurement for future goals. Not that rating is that much important. I found the following words of ZEN wisdom and couldn’t agree more.

“My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success.

She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you.
Success is being praised by others. That is nice but not as important or satisfying.

Always aim for achievement and forget about success.” –Helen Hayes

With this attitude nothing can stop you. Nobody will care about the rating or if you have lost against weak players. What counts is that you have worked hard and that you know what to do in the future.

With these words I want to say good by for 2012 and wish you all a merry christmas!

merry-xmas-snoopy

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One of my chess buddies mentioned to me that he now has to focus more on tactics because he has started to miss simple things. This brought up the old question how to practice tactics. There are different approaches:

No more than 10-15min per day but be consistent

Solve simple (!) puzzles at the start of the training and rather analyze games of tactical players like Alekhine, Tal, Shirov, Kasparov, Mamedyarov. The advantage is that when you play through the games you will face many tactical positions and you also learn how to coordinate your pieces so that the opportunities arise. An obvious drawback is that a game only provides a handfull of tactics so picking up patterns will take time.

The other approach is:

Solve as many puzzles as possible

Here we talk about thousands of puzzles. Sites like ChessTempo generate them in huge amounts and by using a sophisticated rating system you can easily select between easy and hard puzzles. The obvious advantage is that you get to see all kind of patterns that sooner or later will be helpful in your own games. The biggest drawbacks are that it can get pretty boring if you do a lot of simple puzzles and it’s very time consuming. Time that you could spend on analysing master games.

Somewhere in-between is a third approach:

Learn selected puzzles by heart

There are many books about tactics available and the authors have been very careful in selecting examples that teach you the fundamentals of an idea. Wouldn’t it be enough to just learn them by heart so that your normal thought process will pick up a tactical motif during a game?

Learn Tactics

What is the best method? There is no definite answer. From a scientific point of view I would say that it should be enough to understand an idea to be able to apply it but this doesn’t take into consideration the complexity of chess. While thinking about the best move in a position you will dismiss an idea entirely if you don’t see an advantage. Depending on the tactical skill this will be at 4 or 5 plies. If you have solved similar problems already then this will increase the number of plies considerably because your subconsious will tell you that there is something in this position and you keep on looking.

With an ideal thought process you won’t need it but, again, chess is complex and in the heat of the battle it’s easy to miss something. There are surely some patterns that don’t require a lot of repetition but I think it’s helpful for critical patterns like pins, forks and double attacks. I have used ChessTempo to create a set with exactly these problems and will train them in the next weeks. Let’s see how long my motivation will last. 🙂

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Chess drawing streak

My latest chess games made one thing obvious: I need to play more. After some weeks of intense study I can feel that my general understanding has improved. On the other hand I currently struggle to cash in a win and my opponents manage to simplify the positions into draw. I have already identified that one mistake is the early exchange of minor pieces, which greatly reduces the winning chances. This happened in my first TL game where I had decent winning chances but gave them away too easily.

The second game also ended in a draw. In the following position I should have taken the material to go for a win:

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Not taking the pawn actually resulted in a worse position in which my opponent missed his chance:

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We ended in a drawn endgame where Black pressed on for a long time – until he even blundered at move 73 which I missed because I was only waiting for his draw offer. That was a good lesson what to do in such endgames. Be ready for your chance and look for opportunities.

Finally I played another over-the-board game last Saturday. I handled the middlegame better and reached the following position in which I thought that there must be something.

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Maybe my dear blog readers are able to suggest something better for Black instead of my move 28…h6. White was able to equalize and after a forcing line we agreed to a draw.

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