Saturday, April 30, 2005

My Goddess Caissa

I've seen some Knights blog about Her, but I always had my doubts if She really existed. But then I saw Her right in front of me, in all Her breathtaking beauty. My heart pounded. My tongue was dry. I found no words. Worship, I thought. This is our duty as Knights Errant. Desperately I tried to grab a word, but my brain was empty. Then I heard Her crystal clear voice.
«What did you to please me, Knight?»
«I was allowed to solve eighty of your puzzles today, my Goddess Caissa. This is a great honour for me, a common Knight. I did find a lot of good moves ...»
«Temerity», she cut my word, «from one not yet a master. There is no such thing as a good move!»
«But are we not required to always find good moves, or more than that, try to find the best?»
«That's what they all think, these Knights.» She sighed. «If you really want to serve me, find the required move. There is always one, and only one. All other are errors or even blunders. Tell me more, Knight!»
«In eighty removals of the guard, I found seventy-seven required moves.»
«Temerity from a common Knight to praise himself! Stop these words! You better confess what happened yesterday.» Her voice was now sharp as a razor.
I mumbled something as I felt very honoured to be allowed to confess my faults in front of Her, and that She lend me Her precious ear. Yesterday I had missed a lot of double attacks. I confessed this and begged for Her pardon and said I will do anything to find all the required moves there in order to please Her.
«So you miss double attacks, Knight! Many of them do, because they do not recognize loose pieces. I see that you do not know what such a thing is.»
«I do, my Goddess, I do. A loose piece is one that is neither protected nor attacked. If attacked, we would call this a hanging piece.»
«Tries to be smart, this Knight. But speaking nonsense.»
«Nonsense, my Goddess?»
«Any definition that misses the slightest part of truth is nonsense. I see you never will master double attacks as long as you do not spot all those loose pieces in any given position.»
Loose piece, I murmured, not attacked, not defended, just lonely. What else ...
«I help you once, Knight. Look at this rook that is defended once. Can we call it a loose piece?»
«Oh, now I see. Defended once, attacked once. So the sum is again zero, and we call it a loose piece of second order, and as such it is prone to any double attack.»
«Trying to speak smart again, this Knight. You better do my exercises well. If you please me and if I like, you may see me again in the fourth circle.»
I tried to answer, but away She was.

Friday, April 29, 2005

To gambit or not to gambit

That is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer ... Well, I just learned that my next rated game of Tuesday has been postponed, because of a holyday of my opp. So instead of White I probably will be Black next, and this would mean not to play gambit.

Why not? As black I stay away fom gambitting. Some reasons:

  • unsoundness rate of black gambits is higher
  • as Black the probability of a certain line is less predictable
  • gambits must be well prepared, so you use too much time in preparing things that never happen

Bobby Fischer, one of the most aggressive attackers chess world has ever seen, put it like this: «As black you must equalize first, only then you are ready to attack.»

Hungry? Vitamins are good for the thinking process!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Slope down

My average speed per problem dropped by 4 secs, the success rate dropped by 3%. Hope to be above 80% at the end of the circle. Speed is not so important.

Circle 3 update: Day 128, 12 left
Average: 1:03 min. per problem, 87%

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lesson learned

Last saturday I took part at a one day training with 2 grandmasters. Had won this at a competition offered by this newspaper. A saltimbocca with risotto and broccoli in a fine little italian restaurant was also offered. Great! The grandmasters presented own games they lost, and explained why. Really impressive, learned much, above all the strategic approach to a win. Tactics is fine, but only when its time has come.

Yesterday, at our city championship, I had the opportunity to see if I had learned the lesson. At one point I was tempted to sacrifice a piece for 2 pawns and attack, but I found no mate and decided to be patient. Sigma Chess told me later that my decision was wise.

Later, at this position, White offered a draw. Hey, man, in any puzzle I see the win in 7 seconds, but this was a game, it was late in the evening, and nobody told me «Black to move and win», leave alone such hints as «weak back rank» or «removal of the guard». I admit it took me 7 minutes. I lost 5 minutes considering the consequences of the 2 ways of queen exchange, but then the pattern JUMPED to me. I took another 2 minutes silently enjoying my win before I moved.

Rating status: 6 games, +41 points = 0.32 points/day
Extrapolation, just for fun: 400 points in 1244 days

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Congrats Fussy Lizard!

One more Knight finished! So it was time to post the Hall of Fame with 4 members now. Seems that you are keeping the record, Tempo. So I copied from you.

My own experience today: Not bad, but I still miss some 10% of the solutions, partly because of missing the pattern, and partly by overlooking defending moves.

Day 126, 14 left in circle 3.
Average time per problem: 58 sec
Average success rate: 90%

Monday, April 25, 2005

Circle 3 started

My schedule for this circle is 80 problems a day, with a speed of 1 minute per problem. Most of these first problems were quite familiar to me, so I was able to keep the pace. If I see the solution in seconds, I go to the next one. If I miss the solution, make a note and go to the next one. When I am through, I go back to the ones I missed and use some extra time to look at the solutions.

Day 125 of the MDLM program
Time per problem: 1 min.
Success rate: 91%
15 Days left in circle 3

Thursday, April 21, 2005

It does help, Knights!

Why do we all these circles of Inferno, of Terror, of Death? Aren't they Circles of Lost Hope? I had asked this to myself more than once, but then, some weeks ago, I learned that it DOES pay! I was White and my opp just had attacked my Queen. But then the winning move had jumped to me, and 4 moves later the game was over.

3r1r1k/pB4pp/1n6/8/8/1P3Q2/Pq3PPP/2R1R1K1 w - -

You got it, Knights?

Many of you seem to use CT-ART, so listen to what Dan Heisman has to say about it at Chesscafe: Too many queen sacrifices. And better do many repetitions of low level exercises only, but for higher levels, do not repeat but look for more different ones.

Day 121, 3 left in circle 2, 40 problems, 50% success rate, 71 minutes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

65 % success rate

Will I be fit enough for circle 3 that will start april 25? I hoped to get an answer with this little test: Right solution found in less than 1 minute = 1 point, not found or missed an important detail = 0 points. Score: 65 %. I have to work out a plan of how to deal with the 35 % I miss. I think they need at least 2 more minutes to burn them into the brain.

Day 120, 4 remaining in circle 2

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Unable to hold the pace

Still in circle 2, but already it is impossible to to the intended 40 problems in one hour. The last 40 took me 72 minutes. I had tried to choose simple ones, but their number is limited, of course. Queen sacrifice and mate in 7, this is very hard to calculate in less than one minute. In circle 3, one hour will be definitely too short to do 80 problems! I must rework my time schedule.

119 days, 5 to go in circle 2

Monday, April 18, 2005

Don't call me a Pawn!

Yesterday I missed more than one queening combination. I looked at one of these pawns on 7th rank, and it told me: «Don't call me a Pawn». I found no words, swallowed. It continued: «Call me a Queen-That-Has-Not-Yet-Moved». Then one on his 6th rank asked me: «And what are you going to call me?» I had learned quickly, so I said: «A Queen-in-Two, right?» «Wrong», it replied. «Look at the geometry.» «Oh, sorry, Knight-in-Two, now I see, force his King to a6 and then fork his Queen.» Oops, much remains to be learned.

Program status: 118 days, 6 days remaining in circle 2
Speed: 40 problems per hour.
Rating status: 5 games, +28 points = 0.24 points/day

This looks more like 400 points in 5 years ...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

My new blundercheck ritual

After my blunder in a recent game I desperately missed my old blundercheck ritual. The old one was writing down before moving and then have a last look. I have done this since once I saw my opponent write down a blunder, cross it out, make a good move and winning the game instead of losing. Good idea, but new FIDE rules will no longer allow this. I thought I better adopt the new rule immediately in order to be prepared before it becomes mandatory.

Well, I had to learn that I need a ritual that forces me to do a blundercheck before EVERY move. Yesterday I played at Swiss Team Championship and, for the very first time, I applied my new ritual. It is nearly the same as before, the only difference being that I do not write down the move, but make a visible dot in its place and say to myself: You made your move, now look at the board what you have done!

It worked perfectly. And our team won 5.5-0.5, the single draw was not mine. I managed to completely paralyze my opponent, get his Knight into a criss-cross pin for an eternity of moves, I had all the time in the world to build up more pressure and eventually take it.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Gambiteer smashes «refutation» to dust

He is underrated and has nothing to lose. His higher rated opponent feels so superior and treats him as a fool. But then ...

Download this, print it out, take a chessboard and a seat, enjoy. And if you play the Smith-Morra against Sicilians (I do), you must know this game!

Friday, April 15, 2005

How to beat Kasparov

This morning while jogging with four-legged Goldie I invented a method how to build up a calculation muscle strong enough to beat Kasparov. Remember that old Greek guy called Heracles, and how he became world's strongest hero? When he was young he picked up a newborn calf and lifted it above his head. He did this every day until he was a man and the calf was a bull.

Just do this in chess! Take any game, yours or a grandmaster's, and replay it on your computer. With every move, hit the back key once and visualize the position you have seen before. If this works perfectly, do the same with 2 back steps after every move forward, then with 3 and so on, until you step back the whole game. At the end you should be able to beat the strongest calculator in chess world.

If you fail to achieve, please, do not blame my method. Just consider the possibility that the method in itself is good, but that you are not good enough.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance with already existing programs, methods or whatsoever is a pure coincidence and was by no means intended by the author.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Proudly aboard!

Today Don mailed it to me, so, officially, I am a Knight Errant de La Maza now. Happy to be aboard with you all out there! I'll soon complete my link list to you members. Am I right, Don, that your list is ordered by age of membership? If so, I would like to keep this.

Thanks for the warm welcome greetings I already got and for the ones yet to come.

Just in brief my program status: I am using a selected subset of rather simple problems, because speeding up every circle is part of the program, and how could yo speed up to 30 sec/problem with difficult ones? I use a series of 640 out of the famous 1001 collection, and another 640 I typed as FEN tags into my computer from various books, the most important being Neistadt, Shakhmatny Praktikum (Russian, translated to German).

January 19 I started the first circle (3 min/problem), today I do problems 200 to 240 of the 2nd series of 2nd circle with a speed of 1:30 min per problem. I do not keep record of success rates, but if I do not find the solution immediately, I let the computer show me, and I use some extra time to visualize it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tactics is not all

Just look at my disaster yesterday at our City Championship, round 2. I was White. After 1. e4 e6 2. b3 d5 3. Bb2 dxe4 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Qe2 Be7 6. O-O-O O-O 7. Nxe4 a5 I had to follow one of two conflicting rules.

Tactical Rule: Avoid opponent rook on open file against your King.
Strategic Rule: In opposite castlings do not advance pawns when attacked.

I followed tactics and played 8. a4?, came under heavy pressure, blundered and lost. End of the story, but a nice lesson. Building up pressure is a matter of strategy, not tactics. Using this pressure to win is a matter of tactics.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Spotting the mouse traps

I am following the Michael de la Maza program since December 22, 2004. Means that I am in the middle of the 2nd Circle. My rating at the Swiss Chess Federation was 1627 at the moment I started the program, now it is 1639.

I did the microdrills as suggested by MDLM but meanwhile discontinued this. Why? I do not find it useful to spot in a fraction of a second where a single Knight, Bishop or Queen can go. Pieces are working together in chess! I suggest therefore a different sort of microdrill: Look at a position and spot all squares under control of White/Black. Look at the board until they pop up to you!

Yes, your are right, Temposchlucker!
Empty board, you name it, Nezha

Then, in many tactical positions you will find the mousetraps where Kings will be mated. Definition of a mousetrap: A central square, accessible to the King, surrounded by 7 squares not accessible to the King and 1 square by which the King enters the trap and goes to the central square. Squares not accessible may be not existent (edges of chessboard) or occupied by own pieces or under control of opponent pieces.

Nice picture of the mousetrap (#7 of 8 fundamental mating patterns) and its relatives, thanks King for posting and Tempo for showing me.