Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Plan for New Year

Readers who have followed my previous posts will know that It was only a few days ago that I had been introduced to the Colle system, and had immediately taken a liking to the Zukertort style. So much so that I had proclaimed that C-Z is the only opening I wish to play as White for the next few years, because I hoped to master it. I also bought the books "Zuke 'Em" and "The Moment of Zuke" to aid me in my efforts. But alas...

Firstly, the more I try to play C-Z, the more I realize it is not C-Z I'm playing. Sticking with the Zukertort move order seems impossible because almost all opposition (even at my level) simply will not allow it (consciously or otherwise), and it is often required to transpose into other lines.

Secondly, the author of the said book himself acknowledges the above fact, and advocates transposing into other lines when faced with anti-colle moves. It's more like saying "This is the Colle-Zukertort system for you to try, but if your opponents will not oblige -- and they mostly will not -- then you need to be prepared to play something else, and these books will help you prepare for such transpositions." That doesn't sound good to me.I don't regret trying the opening out, but I certainly regret investing on the books.

Now I am left with no choice but to continue exploring which opening I wish to stick to when I play White. Hope I soon find one that I can be comfortable with.

Any corrections/suggestions?

Many thanks.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Game as Black 2

Another humble attempt at playing positionally well. White: Chesstempo computer.

I know I missed an obvious mating opportunity toward the end. I cannot overlook it even though I eventually won. Because, had I lost, I would have kicked myself for wasting such a clear opportunity. This taught me to keep my eyes open at all times during the game.

Feedback welcome.
Many thanks.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to Improve?

It's so sad that higher rated players will not spare a moment with you when you lose against them. What is the point of playing higher rated opponents if they will not help you learn after naturally beating you? How do we learn under these circumstances?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Very Strange Positions

Played this game against the ChessTempo computer. I started with the intention of playing C-Z, but this turned out to be a totally different animal. Completely novel positions. Strange game. But had real fun playing it. Moreover, ChessTempo had to give me a rating increase of +15 after this game. Had no time to add comments, so I'm uploading the PGN as it is.

Many thanks.

Two Decisive Forces

In chess as much as in life, greed and fear are the two forces that play a decisive role. Both can influence our decisions either positively or negatively. It depends on who is in control, we or the forces. As long as we are totally enslaved by greed and fear, there can hardly be any positive outcome. But if we remain in control and learn to use the forces as effective tools, then I think we will do quite well.

In the following game, I was playing the White pieces. My strength is roughly the same as that of my opponent. Greed and fear played a big part in this game, at least for me. At the end I was quite happy with my performance, but I'd like better players to educate me if I missed anything or if I could have played better.

Many thanks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Game as Black 1

While I have decided to stick with the C-Z as White, I understand that there cannot be something similar for Black. Since Black cannot decide the first move of the game, and because there is no way to know in advance what opening, move order or variation the opponent will play, Black cannot narrow down the preparation to a single favourite move order or system.

When I play Black, I simply try to adhere to the fundamentals, the general opening principles. If White's opening involves complicated theory or too many possible variations, then chances are high that I may be mercilessly slaughtered by way of positional supremacy. In any case, if my opponent has mastered so much theory and is such a good player, I don't mind losing the game and learning the lessons.

I played this game online at ChessTempo as Black against the computer. Though I won this time, I am sure a stronger opponent would have beaten me. Have a look and let me know what you think. Have added my doubts/questions in the move comments.

Many thanks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Game 4

I played this game against Chrome's free Shredder application (Easy level, of course). The idea was to continue practicing the opening ideas in the C-Z.

What were my mistakes? 
Many thanks.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Game 3

Online game against computer (medium strength):

Constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement welcome.

Many thanks.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A New Plan Is In Place

When I put up my game for reviews on, Ben (sargentboomstick) was kind enough to offer me valuable suggestions on alternate lines I could have tried. 

Notable among them are: 
a) 4. e3 b5 5. a4 a6 6. Nc3 Bb7 7. Ne5 Nf6 8. Qf3 (he says he would have perhaps played this way, but is not sure if it is correct).
b) 6. a4 b4 7. Na2 Nxe4 8. Bxc4 (With thoughts of Ne5-Qf3)

In the ensuing discussions he mentioned the Colle, London and Stonewall. This came in good time as I had already decided to try out a new opening at the same level. I briefly looked up the Colle, and CZ appealed to me quite a bit. Therefore I have decided to study CZ instead of KG.

Wish I could post my games more frequently and gather more quality feedback to improve faster. Playing is one thing, but I wouldn't like to post a game without first adding my comments. I've still not found a PGN editor that would let me easily add comments and embed the result into web pages (Notepad is just not meant for this purpose; and I do not know why Google hasn't yet come up with a PGN editor). Nevertheless, I shall post my games as frequently as life (a full-time job and other commitments) permits me the time to annotate them. If nothing else avails, I shall publish them in my blog -- they have a very good embedded PGN editor for their own blogs -- and provide links here.

That's it, for now. More, soon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thoughts and Plans 1

These days, I've been constantly playing against the Reckless Dave personality of NagaSkaki. 
The personality configuration is as follows:

I usually play G/30 games, allowing the personality to ponder (think on my time). The hash size I maintain in 32 MB.

Initially when I played White against Dave, I used to open with 1. Nf3, and then play either 2. g3 3. Bf2, or 2. d4 depending on Dave's response. One of the reasons I chose to use that opening was because I had read an interesting article about it, and clearly understood the underlying concepts: the Fianchetto -- letting one (or both) Bishops control the longest diagonal(s) -- along with the possibilty of swaying into a Queen side attack after castling short. Moreover, the opening seemed as playable by Black as by White, which was quite an attractive reason to try it out.

As I played and analyzed my several games, I realized that some of the positions resembled the ones I had read about a long time ago, before I had completely given up trying to memorize opening moves. It was then that I understood what transposition meant. Some openings could transpose into others with a different move order, and understanding the concepts underlying one could easily help understand the others. When I was consistently able to beat Dave with the above opening (playing White or Black), I decided to try my hand at what, once upon a time, used to scare the living daylights out of me: the Queen's Gambit.

The Queen's Gambit was one opening that used to make me very nervous when I played Black, and I had never understood how to play it as White. Reading the theory had not helped beyond giving me a headache or a complex. And yet, here I was, after all these years, returning to play the Queen's Gambit as White with a newfound confidence and nothing but the general opening principles. Surprisingly, it no more seemed so baffling. I was not nervous and, though I lost my first game against Dave, I was smiling because I knew exactly what mistakes I had committed that had cost me the game. And a few games later, I was actually winning. Then I switched sides and got Dave to play the Queen's Gambit against me (it can be done by manipulating the opening book used by the application). I was playing my worst fear, but for some reason, I was no more afraid!

I now have two ways to go forward: I can either start playing the next personality (one level higher) of NagaSkaki with whatever understanding I have earned thus far, or try experimenting with another challenging opening at the same level and gain some more experience. I plan to walk the second path, and to try playing with and against the King's Gambit. Hope I am doing right. Suggestions from more experienced players are welcome.

Many thanks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Game 1

The stand-alone computer chess software NagaSkaki from Mayothi is one of my favorite chess playing companions. I played the game below against Reckless Dave: one of NagaSkaki's built-in personalities (the creators roughly rate the personality at 1825), with G/30 time controls.

I have added comments to most moves, so that readers may know my thoughts during the game. I request more experienced players to have a look and give me hints for improvement.

This browser is not Java-enabled.

Many thanks.


Saturday, November 26, 2011


Oh, boy! I have brought myself up to start this journal, after all. The nagging desire for improvement has finally gathered enough strength to push me in this direction. This should have happened much earlier. Whatever reasons I may justify the delay with (of course, some are very valid), the fact remains that I have wasted much time and, thereby, thrown away several opportunities for improvement. Never mind, better late than never.

A brief introduction is in order. I was casually introduced to the game about twenty years ago, and had immediately fallen in love with it. Love, by itself, does not give deeper insights; nevertheless, it did inspire me to learn. After understanding the ultimate objective of the game, and learning how pawns and pieces are legally allowed to move, I was pretty much on my own. Those days, I played oblivious to tactical concepts and strategical concerns, and lost game after casual game with absolutely no clue about how to get better. The first few losses were very bitter; each loss would nibble off a bit of my self-esteem, and as many as four losses in a row would leave me utterly disheartened and unwilling to play again. However, after a brief pause, a fresh wave of inspiration would carry me back to the board with a revived desire to improve.

I have come a long way since. As I write these lines, I am already 37. I consider my current playing strength to be (subjectively) 1350. While I think that is fair reward for the time life had allowed me to spare for chess, and for the efforts I had been able to put in, I know that I can do much better. I can use all the constructive criticism/help/advice in this direction from better players. Hence this journal.

First of all, I must summarize where I stand. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible in my self-evaluation:

1. Opening Theory:
    Not my immediate concern. There was a time when I had tried memorizing a few moves of certain openings. That was when I had entertained the mistaken belief that doing so would help me improve. That ended, in one word, badly. I shall not waste another moment studying opening lines, but shall simply respect the basic opening principles.

2. Strategy
    My positional understanding is better today than it was twenty years ago, and I believe it will only improve with time if I keep playing slow games with higher rated opponents (humans and computer personalities). Have read "How to reassess..." by Silman once. Currently not actively working on this.

3. Tactics
    My immediate concern. Am currently working on this. Have started out with the book "303 Tactical Puzzles" by Fred Wilson and Albert Robinson. Finished the first 100 puzzles meant for beginners. Scored a decent 90. I shall work on the next 100 puzzles meant for intermediate players, and return to rework on  both sets before I go to the last 100 puzzles meant for tournament players. I shall then work through the last set again. Currently Flipkart does not have "5334 Problems, Combinations and Games". Shall order it as soon as I receive the intimation mail from them. In the mean time, I plan to complete my work with the book I currently own.

4. End-game
    Have read some bits about basic end games somewhere on the Internet. Currently not actively working on this.

Shall utilize this space to share my games, to ask questions, and to learn. Shall post games regardless of the result, because I believe I will have as much to learn from the games I won as from those I lost. Hope better players will be able to find some time aid my improvement. All constructive criticism/help/advice regarding the games is welcome.