dinsdag 28 februari 2017

Really? a Yusupov Challenge?

Sometimes you must see what the opponent is up to. So I surfed to the Quality Chess blog and discovered that Jacob Aagaard is promoting a Yusupov Challenge (click link to read what it is all about). I may not join this challenge, like stated in the rules of QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE.

Like commentartors on this Yusupov Challenge blog post I find Jacob Aagaard's plan rather ambitious. I would never expect me saying this but I am in disagreement with a grandmaster. Me, a chess patzer, lover of the game of chess, worshipper of Caissa, disagrees with a person that propably saw Caissa face to face.

Jacob writes that one must read one book a month. Which is about one chapter per day which is easily done. He gives twenty minutes for reading the theory and about 40 minutes to solve the twelve exercises. So only one hour a day to spend on chess. Who can be against that?

I am not against the methode, but I think there is a big problem with it. Jacob only speaks of reading, not learning. With other words, I wonder if people who use this proposed methode still know after chapter 10 or 15 what they have read the first three to five chapters? It's easy to read, it's much more difficult to really understand it and correctly use it during a chess game.

So while the persons stepping into the Yusupov Challenge will probably improve in chess because they are busy for an hour per day with chess but it will be little. They occasionally will pick up some of the stuff Yusupov describes in his books but the majority will be lost after a short period of time.

Offcourse, I hope that many Yusupov Challenger contestants will prove me wrong. I hope that I will hear many succes stories. People raising their ratings with 200 points. People showing wonderfull combinations on the chess board. People looking at me and showing of their brand new FM title.

I can only give one advise, have fun! That is always the most important part of any challenge you will undertake.

Good luck and may Caïssa be with you!

vrijdag 24 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: TYCTA: Signal 1: King position

Looking for signals
After my disasterous chess weekend it was time again to dive back in the book Tune your chess tactics antenna. To stay on topic of the antenna, author Emmanuel Neiman, talks about signals instead of weaknessess. There are seven signals, today we gonna speak about signal 1: King Position.

The king is the most important chess piece on the board. A succesfull attack against the king ends the game. This is the only signal that can lead to a forced win, the other signals, which we will talk about in later blog posts just point to ways of gaining material. We cannot sacriface more then we hope to get back, while in order to deliver checkmate, we can afford to give anything.

Lets move on to an example.

The position of the black king is not that good, it's blocking the rook on h8. The knight on d8 is poorly placed, it hampers the rook on a8. But the most important point is that there is a checkmate when the white rook reaches e8.

This is how we have to think!!!

We have picked up the signal, which is the most important point. We can now examine the forced continuations that may allow the mate to come on the board.

Gligoric, Svetozar - Rosenstein, Julis

Result: *
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] The mate on e8 is defended by the bishop on e7 and the queen on d7. Our plan is clear now. We now can examine the forced combinations (elimination, deflection, decoy, pin, ... ) that remove those two pieces from their defensive task..1.£xe7+ £xe7One obstacle removed, now only the queen defends.We might take it, this is good enough by the way, but not the strongest, because the black king would get some breathing space on d7. Another idea is to deflect the black queen from the defence of e8, and we can do so with2.¥d6 Making use of the pin 2...£xd6 Black would also be lost after all other moves, because he cannot defend the queen. 3.¦e8#

A Chess player should know all the classical mating patterns (Arabian or Arabic mate, mate of Anastasia, Boden's mate, ...) by heart so he will be able to spot them by anticipation, before the position might allow their realization.

A good way to start is by going to the blog of James Stripes named Chess skills. In the right sidebar (scroll a little down) you will find his pamphlet "Checklist of checkmates" which contains a great deal of all classical mating patterns.

Have fun!

woensdag 22 februari 2017

QC vs NIC BOOK CHALLENGE: A strange weekend, games that learned me plenty

Last weekend I had to play two official games. The first game was for the silver rook competition. A team championship  at the provincial level. I guess it's comparable with what americains call a state team championship.

The game follows for a long time the draw path although it doesn't look that way. I learned that I have to improve my board vision. I have to see the whole board instead of only the kingside like in this game.

Verduyckt, Johan (1841) - Guldentops, Pierre (1670)

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: 2017.02.17
[...] 1.d4 e6 2.¤f3 f5 3.¥f4 ¤f6 4.¤bd2 ¥e7 5.h3Played to put the bishop away if black plays Nh55...O-O 6.e3 d6 7.¥c4 £e8 8.c3 ¥d8
8...¢h8 9.£e2 ¥d8 10.O-O ¤c6 11.¥h2 a6 12.¦fd1 e5 13.dxe5 ...0-1, Korosparti Sandor 2116 - Ladanyine-Karakas Eva, Hungary 1992 Ch Hungary (team)
8...h6 9.£c2 ¥d8 10.O-O-O ¤c6 11.¦dg1 ¤e4 12.g4 d5 13.¥d3 ...1-0, Pilny Jiri - Kaiser Rudolf 1945 , Ricany 24/ 8/2011 It (open)
9.£c2 ¢h8 10.O-O ¤c6 11.¥h2 £h5 12.¥g3 Dont ask me why I keep playing on the kingside and not try to attack on the queenside, I dont know. Probably my old weakness playing up, seeing only one part of the board instead of the whole board. (12.b4 a6 13.a4 g5 14.b5 ¤e7) 12...¤e4 13.¤xe4 fxe4 14.¤h2 (14.¤d2 Is probably better) 14...£g6 15.¥e2 ¤e7 16.£d1 No plan, just wanted to chase the black queen around 16...¤f5 17.¥f4 £e8 18.¢h1 Still playing on the kingside, it's as if the queenside doesn't exist. 18...e5 19.dxe5 dxe5 20.¥g3 ¥f6 21.¤g4 ¤xg3+ 22.fxg3 ¥xg4 23.¥xg4 ¦d8 24.£c2
24.£b3 £c6 25.¦ad1 is a little bit better for white then the played move
24...¦d3 Didn't even see this move coming. So many blind spots in my board vision. 25.¦ae1 ¥g5 26.¥f5 ¦xe3 27.¦xe3 ¥xe3 28.£xe4 ¥b6 29.¦e1 ¥f2 30.¦d1 ¥xg3 31.¥xh7 £h5 32.£d3 ¦f6
32...£xh7 33.£xg3 Is maybe better for black to get the e-pawn promoted?
33.¥e4 ¦d6 34.¦f1 ¥f4 35.£b5 b6 36.£a6 Totally missing (36.¦xf4) 36...¦d8 37.£c4 c5 38.¥c2 £g5 39.£e4 £h6
39...g6 is a little bit better because the black king gets more freedom
40.£f5 +0.77* 40...¢g8 And my opponent's flag fell. So game over. Nevertheless I would win black's bishop here by playing 43. g3
The second game I played good for 17 moves. Then took my malicious mind over and it got from worse to deadly wounded.

Lagendijk, Ivo (1802) - Verduyckt, Johan (1841)

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: 2017.02.19
[...] 1.¤f3 d5 2.g3 ¤f6 3.¥g2 ¤bd7 4.d3 e5 5.O-O ¥d6 6.e4 dxe4 7.dxe4 O-O 8.¤c3 h6 9.¥e3 b6 10.¤h4 ¦e8 11.¤f5 ¥f8 12.£e2 ¥b7 13.¦fd1 £c8 14.¥h3 ¥c6 15.£f3 £b7 16.¤d5 ¥xd5 17.¦xd5 ¤xd5 18.exd5 And here my malicious brain took over. Malicious: Develop your knight to it's natural developing square No need to think about it, natural is good. So I lashed out 18...¤f6 19.¤xh6+ Do not panic, it's a knight for a knight. 19...gxh6 20.£xf6 Malicious: Grab that pawn, it's free, it's delicious, a pawn is a pawn. 20...£xd5 Normal me: (20...¥g7 Is offcourse better then the move played) 21.¥g2 Malicious: Woops, a skewer. But we will not go down. We can defend with 21...e4 22.¥d4 Eeeks, threatening mate. Ah, we can run, but can we hide? 22...¢h7 23.£h8+ ¢g6 24.£g8+ ¢h5 25.g4+ Malicous: Alright, he didn't see that
25.¥f1 leads always to checkmate, maybe I can get out of this and still win the game. Normal me: I will let my opponent checkmate me, as punishment that I listened to Malicious. Next time keep thinking, each and every move!
25...¢h4 26.¥f6+ £g5 27.¥xg5+ hxg5 28.£h7+ ¢xg4 29.¥h3+ ¢f3 30.£f5+ ¢e2 31.¥g4+ ¢d2 32.£d5+ ¢xc2 33.£b3+ ¢d2 34.¦d1# And my opponent thanked malicious mind.

Now I only have 4,5/6.0 instead 5,5/6.0 . There goes my rating gain. I hope this will not let me loose the challenge.

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!!!!