Archive for February, 2013

Missed chances

How do you feel when you play a good game and miss a couple of chances to bring in the full point? This is what happened in my last TL game which featured nice tactics and poor endgame play from my side. The first good chance had my opponent with the white pieces:


I thought that Bxf5 is okay for me, e.g. with Ne7 and Be6 if required. However, White can first capture the knight and then, as so often in the French,  play 18.Bxh6!!. One always has to look out for such ideas, especially when most of Black’s pieces are on the other side of the board. It works surprisingly often.

After some piece shuffling I reached a wonderful position with good chances.


One idea I looked at was 23…Bb4! which results in an interesting position with a strong attack for Black. It’s not easy though and after checking with the computer I am sure that I would have screwed it up. Normal play was good enough though and I reached the following position:


Here I didn’t look at all candidate moves and missed a winning combination. 26…Rxf3!! would have won in in all variations and after missing this move I lost the grip a bit and my opponent defended with resilience. Nevertheless, I finally got another last chance:


Here I thought that I had some tactical blow with queen + rook and missed that the simple 51…Rxg4 will result in a lot of trouble for White. The computer already gives it a good advantage but it will take a while until it materializes. We played some more moves and finally I offered a draw.

After the game I knew that there should have been something. Only after checking with the computer I realized that 1) I have missed a good tactical opportunity and that 2) simple exchanges were the key in the endgame. While I would consider myself a patient player it became clear that I played too agressive and impatient in the end. Leaning back with a good position and slowly improving would have been much better, especially when it comes to pawn moves.

Tough lesson but games like this will bring me forward.

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A nice puzzle

The following puzzle is rated only 1431 on Chesstempo:

It’s part of my “pin, forks and double attacks” problem set. I was looking for some time but couldn’t find a way to exploit the pin or setup a fork. As so often, knowing a basic pattern will help. Look at this:

Arabian Mate

The famous Arabian Mate! You can find more about it here and if you want to, take the time to look at the other mating ideas as well (chapter 6).

Now it’s easy to solve the puzzle above. Re7 sets up the mate and Black can’t prevent it.

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Chess training: tactics (2)

In my first post 2 months ago I was thinking about the right method to practice tactics. I decided to create a set of puzzles on Chesstempo with the following criterias:

  • Motifs: pins, forks and double attacks
  • Difficulty: 1400 – 1600 (this has  nothing to do with ELO, it’s calculated from the site rating of the people who have attempted to solve a puzzle)
  • Minimum plies: 3

The idea was to train the patterns that occur most often in a game. With the selected difficulty I made sure that I can solve the puzzles in a reasonable time (< 5min) and with the minimum plies I only get puzzles where I have to set up the motif myself with at least one move, there is no immediate knight fork. Often the positions contain more than one motif so by restricting myself to the 3 above I will nevertheless train all kind of tactics.

2 months and 200 puzzles later I can already say that this works pretty good. Pins and hanging pieces (the targets for forks and double attacks) are much easier to see and in one of my tournament games I was able to set up the following “trap”:

I am a pawn up and the idea was to exchange more pieces to reach an easier endgame. After Bc5 I saw that it was tempting for White to play Kd3, which my opponent did, and Black now calmly replies 34…Rxe5. My opponent then panicked:

This of course loses quickly to a pawn fork after 35…Rxg5 36. hxg5 e5. Game over.

What’s next? I will stick to it until the end of April and then check if I should do something different. In parallel I have my Chess Training Pocket Book which doesn’t give away the motif and has a good mix of easy and difficult puzzles with excellent comments.

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Welcome to 2013

It has been quiet in the last weeks but I haven’t been lazy. First, inspired my one of my chess buddies I set some goals for 2013 to make progress with my chess studies. It’s similar to what I did last year but I will pay more attention to checking if I get the results I want to verify that I am on the right track. My shortterm goal is still to reach ELO 1800 (FIDE) and 2000 on ICC!

Second, I played my next tournament. There were just 5 rounds and I had a bye in round 4 when I was sick and unable to play. Overall I am not unsatisfied with my results. 2 wins against players rated 1355 and 1525 and 2 losses against players rated 1941 and 1950. All games were entertaining and I learnt something new.

Third, the playoffs in the Team4545League were a short affair. I played a good game and when my opponent gambled I got a good advantage that I blundered away when the dust settled. Ouch, that was a tough lesson and made me wonder a bit if it’s possible at all to improve once you are an adult. I looked at the rating of a couple of people I know and it was depressing. On the other hand, if I look at my own TeamLeague rating I can’t be unsatisfied so let’s forget all these dark thoughts for now. 🙂

Chess Goals for 2013

So what are my goals for 2013?

  • playing 50 long games (time control at least 60 min). This shouldn’t be a problem, this month I even play in the STTourney (2pm Open). Playing long games practice the thought process, calculation and general play with pawns and pieces.
  • playing through 30+ master games. This is essential to get new ideas and to understand middlegame and endgame plans better. It also trains the thought process.
  • Simple tactics. Not overdoing it, 2-4 per day are enough, consistency is the key here.

In addition I will work through the chess material I own but without pressure. The points above are more important.

I will probably pick up again the habit of writing a weekly progress report so be prepared for more chess stuff in the near future. 🙂

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