woensdag 15 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENCE: Tune your chess tactics antenna - Part 1: Introduction

Beep! Beep!

When I gathered my material (notebook, pen, New in Chess chess book, board and pieces) to start todays chess study my mind made a strange jump. It seems that Chris has another advantage in this challenge. Not only may he use Quality Chess books but his mother tongue is english, the language in which most chess books are written. My language is dutch, so I have to translate what I read. So maybe I must ask Chris to read only books in german? 

Jokes aside, I hope Chris has fun with this challenge. I am having a blast of a time. Never thought I would put so much energy into chess. Time flies. Dont even miss TV.

Andrew Soltis wrote in one of his books that for a good chess study you have to do three things:
  1. Use every diagram as a lesson.
  2. Identify your weaknesses and make them your strenghts
  3. Practise practise practise

My weakness is that my playing style is not active, attacking. I am rather a passive, positional player. Nothing wrong with that, but when I became this year rapid champion of my chess club everybody spoke praising words of my active, attacking style of play. When I became this year blitz champion of my chess club I got again praise about my active, attacking style of play. When I play long time control games everybody talks about my boring, positional play, putting my opponents to sleep, ... .

So my first goal is to get an attractive, active, attacking style of play in my long time control games aswell. This means that I have to improve my tactical play. I could do so by solving hundreds, thousands of tactical puzzles. But I sought another way. I think I found it with the New in Chess book: Tune your chess tactics antenna.

In the 25 page introduction one gets already a nice diagram on the first page which I will give later in this blog post as an example. First I want to talk with you about the thinking process that Emmanuel Neiman discusses in these pages.


1. Global vision
Take a paroramic view without trying to grasp all the details, try to get a general impression.

With other words, just get a feeling (some may call it intuition) of the position. What impression does it give you? Do you prefer white or black? Does it remind you of a simular position you know?

2. Analysis of the position
The dissection of the position.

This you can compare with Silman's imbalances or for the older players, the elements of Steinitz. Once you picked one or two, you can try and look for a combination, with the relevant theme in mind.

3. Looking for the theme
For example, in step two you have detected that the only defense against the threat Qxh7# is the knight on f6. Therefor the theme is elimination, deflection or decoy of the defender

With other words, time to make a plan!

4. Looking for candidate moves
Time to make choices

The selection of candidate moves should be made according to the general idea. We will choose the most forcing way to execute first, and then the second most forcing, ... .
(Forcing: Checks - Mate patterns - Captures - Threats)

5. The calculation of variations
To check our ideas

Previous examinations required good vision of the board. The final stage is just one of sweating. When we deal with forced moves (only moves) the calculation is easy. Sometimes we can find positions that are more complicated, and in this case, at each step, we have to return to step 4.

Easy, isn't it? :-)

Now lets give you an example. Here is the diagram I spoke of earlier. (If you want to solve it yourself first then dont read further until you found the solution).

White to play and win

So lets try our new thinking proces.
1. Gobal vision: not hard, white is winning
2. Analysis of the position: white is ahead in material. All his pieces are on white squares so the black bishop can do no harm. The black king has no legal moves thanks to the knight and pawn.
3. Looking for the theme: Plan: to checkmate the king
4. Looking for candidate moves: Since the black king has no legal moves one must just put the black king in check.We can do this with the bishop, so we must find a route for the bishop to get to b7 without moving knight or pawn.
5. The calculation of variations: Only one variation one has to calculate knowing the above. 

? - ?
Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1.¥h3 g2 2.¥c8 g1=£ 3.¥b7#

Did you find the solution?

 Now I will give you an exercise to solve, I will give the answer in a later blog post.

White to play and win 
Happy solving!

maandag 13 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: First official chess game (not yet analysed)

This is the first official game I played during the Chess Book Challenge. I must admit, I was more focussed because I knew I had to publish this game on my blog for everybody to see. Gave me a little extra stress, kept me on the tips of my toes.

My opponent, Bleuze Kobe, is a young player,(almost) 16 years old. Problem with youth is that they improve rapidly. The last new rating list of january (games played between oktober first - end of december  2016) he raised his rating with 92 points to 1551 elo.So I knew I had to take my chance to beat him now because in the future I will have it very difficult, maybe even impossible , to beat him.

 I didn't analyse the game yet, I will update this post later when I find the time to do so.
For now, enjoy the game, just the moves, but believe me, it did cost me blood, sweat and tears.

Verduyckt, Johan (1841) - Bleuze, Kobe (1551)

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1.d4 d5 2.¤f3 ¤f6 3.¥f4 e6 4.e3 ¥e7 5.h3 O-O 6.¥d3 c5 7.c3 ¤c6 8.¤bd2 ¥d6 9.¤e5 £c7 10.¤df3 ¤e4 11.O-O cxd4 12.cxd4 f6 13.¤xc6 bxc6 14.¥xd6 ¤xd6 15.¦c1 ¥d7 16.¦c5 ¦ab8 17.£c2 h6 18.¦c1 ¦b6 19.b3 ¤f7 20.¥h7+ ¢h8 21.¤h4 ¦fb8 22.¥g6 ¥e8 23.¤f3 ¦c8 24.e4 dxe4 25.£xe4 ¤d6 26.£c2 ¥xg6 27.£xg6 ¤f5 28.d5 ¤e7 29.£f7 ¤xd5 30.£xe6 ¤f4 31.£e3 £d6 32.¦5c4 ¤d5 33.£d2 ¦e8 34.¦e1 ¦xe1+ 35.£xe1 ¦b4 36.£e8+ ¢h7 37.£xc6 £xc6 38.¦xc6 ¦b7 39.¦a6 ¤b4 40.¦a4 a6 41.a3 ¤d3 42.b4 ¦b6 43.¦a5 ¤b2 44.¦c5 ¦d6 45.¦c2 ¤d3 46.¦d2 ¦d5 47.¢f1 ¤f4 48.¦xd5 ¤xd5 49.¤d2 ¤c3 50.¤b3 ¤b5 51.a4 ¤c7 52.¤d4 ¢g6 53.¢e2 f5 54.¢d3 ¢f6 55.¢c4 ¢e5 56.b5 axb5+ 57.axb5 g6 58.b6 ¤e8 59.¤b5 ¤f6 60.b7 ¤d7 61.¤c7 ¢d6 62.¤a6 ¢e5 63.b8=£+ ¤xb8 64.¤xb8 ¢e4 65.¤d7 h5 66.¤c5+ ¢e5 67.¢d3 h4 68.¢e3 g5 69.¤d3+ ¢f6 70.f4 g4 71.¤f2 gxh3 72.gxh3 ¢e6 73.¢d4 ¢d6 74.¤d3 ¢e6 75.¤e1

zondag 12 februari 2017

The Rule book of the challenge

Quality Chess Books versus New in Chess

1. This challenge will be between Chris Wainscott of the blog On the Road to Chess Mastery , later called Chris in these rules and Johan Verduyckt of the blog Can a chesspatzer reach 2000 chess rating ,later called Johan in these rules.

 Jacob Aagaard and Andrew Greet of Quality Chess books are appointed supervisor.

 2. The duration of this challenge is from 11th february 2017 until 11th february 2018.

 3. Chris will only use Quality Chess books with the exception if no book of chosen publisher excist on the topic he wants to read/study about but not of chosen publisher of opponent.

 Johan will only use New in Chess books with the exception of puzzle books, however not of chosen publisher of opponent.

 3. The use of a chess engine is allowed as well as one chess server. Johan will use Chess.com, Chris will use ... , All other electronics (mp4s, websites like Chesstempo, ...) are forbidden.

 4. The help of another human being is not allowed with the exception of an after game analysis with your opponent of that game.

 5. Both Chris and Johan will write atleast two blogposts a week on their blog about this challenge. They also will send a monthly report to Jacob Aagaard/Andrew Greet.

 6. The winner will be the person with the bigest rating gain at the end of the challenge. Chris has now 1804 USCF rating, Johan has now 1841 Belgian National Rating. (This rule will be adjusted if needed to keep it fair since there may be some unexpected complications of a straight up ratings comparison between the USA and Belgium).

 7. At the end of the challenge there will be a four to six game match between Johan and Chris with timecontrol 15 + 10.

vrijdag 10 februari 2017

The Challenge of Quality Chess Books versus New in Chess


In the facebook group Chess Book Collectors, Chris Wainscott, of the blog "On the road to chess mastery" put a link to his blog post "The Quality Chess Book Challenge". A nice initiative I found. The owners and writers of Quality Chess Books would certainly appreciate it. I must admit, the name of the publisher firm is not badly chosen. Their products are indeed of a good, if not to say high, quality.

 Browsing my chess books I saw that I already have many published by "New in Chess". I started pondering if I couldn't do the same with only books published by New in Chess? I knew Chris Wainscott didn't intend to make this a challenge like a fight or a battle but I couldn't help myself to think that I had to take up the glove and make this a little bit bigger challenge then he intended.

This is by no means ment as a commercial for either Quality Chess Books or New in Chess chess books. Nor is this to say that one of the publishers firm has better books then the other one. This is just a friendly challenge, between two chess lovers, to use only chess books of one publisher, on their way to new heights in chess rating. First stop 1900+ rating, and who knows, maybe we gonna do it all the way up to chess mastery (2200 rating).

Here is what I wrote to Chris in the comments of his Chess Book Collectorst facebook post to make my friendly challenge:

Just to make this more fun. I know this is not a challenge as in fight or battle. But I cannot help myself to think that I have to take up the glove and make this a bigger “challenge” then you intend it to be. 🙂
If I read correctly, we are about the same age (begin forty something). Your current rating (national I think) is 1800ish, my national rating at current time is 1841. You want to raise 100 points so thats 1900 for you and 1950ish for me.
This said I propose the following, you use mainly chess books published by Quality chess and I will only use chess books published by New In Chess. But I want to make two exceptions.
1. Chess puzzle books. Since I am a chess teacher at my chess club I want to use as many sources as I can to find examples to give during lessons.
2. The latest book of Jay Bonin: “Active Pieces”. I just got it in the mail and started reading it, I would hate to stop reading this wonderfull book.
Offcourse, if you want some extra rules, like a set budget one may spend, … I am all ears and will discuse/accept new rules you or others want to bring up.
What do you say? Up to the challenge that will get us both to 1900+ (national) rating next year?

Chris replied
 I'm in!!!
So now I have to prove myself. Mainly that I can get to 1900+ rating in one year with only the help of New in Chess chess books. So I have to adjust my chosen books a little bit. Books number 5 Chess structures A grandmaster guide - Mauricio Flores Rios and number 6 The most instructive games of chess ever played - Irving Chernev,   in my first blog post has to be removed from the reading/study list. Bye my friends, I will miss you.

And replaced with:

5. Training with Moska - Victor Moskalenko
6. The power of pawns - Jörg Hickl

Onwards to 1900+ rating!!!!

dinsdag 31 januari 2017

Setup, choose books, start!

Caïssa - patron goddess of chess players

At the beginning of january Andrew A Couchman got in contact with me thru email. He had heard me talk about starting a chess study in one of the facebook groups we are both member of. Since he is doing a chess study himself, his aim is to be(come) Fide Master in 2031, he was eager to give general suggestions how to set up a chess study. Offcourse, as a good chess player, I scrutinized everything he mentioned. Kept in mind the things I like and think is useful and tossed out the things that might be usefull for him but not for me, two persons are never alike.

The whole month of january I thought about how to organize my chess study. At first I read an article that stated that one must spend atleast ten thousand hours of hard work on something before you can even say you mastered it. Doesn't matter if you are talented or not in the chosen subject, you have to do the hours.

I also pondered if I would walk the path so many walked before me. Meaning to start with the books of author Jeremy Silman. I decided against it. Dont get me wrong, Jeremy Silman is a good writer and chess teacher (his books are on my reading list for 2018) but I chose for authors closer at home to start my chess study with.

  1. Tune your chess tactics antenna - Emmanuel Nieman
  2. Chess Strategy for club players - Herman Grooten
  3. Attacking chess for club players - Herman Grooten
  4. Endgame tactics - Ger Van Perlo
  5. The most instructive games of chess ever played - Irving Chernev
  6. Chess structures A grandmaster guide - Mauricio Flores Rios
  7. Chess training Pocket book I & II - Lev Alburt

1st of february I will start my study with the book Tune your chess tactics antenna.

Hopefully it will be a fun and enjoyable road towards 2000 elo. I hope Caïssa will be with me all the way.