Emporia Open Tomorrow

My first tournament as an expert will be tomorrow at the Emporia Open. Although I’m not the top seed I hope to be able to compete for 1st place in the last round. With five rounds to play, I’m aiming for at least 4/5, a full 1.5 points better than my performance last year. I’ll post my best games from this weekend here on my blog some time next week.


PS: For any avid fans of this blog out there, I’ll be posting more once my college application process is complete. A long, detailed post takes at least an hour to write, so its been difficult the past few weeks, especially with the multitude of tournaments I have to prepare for. Thanks for your understanding.


Sorry for the long break, but I FINALLY broke 2000 last week in the Premier section of the Washington Chess Congress. I’ll post a video on my youtube channel this weekend with my best game from the tournament. I finished 3/7, with one win, four draws, and only two losses. I should earn my 1st of five Candidate Master norms at some point this week.

Isaac’s Mailbag, 4th Edition

Hi everyone! I’m back with my fourth mailbag! As you know, each week I answer 4 questions that I have been asked since my last edition of the mailbag, either from coaching my high school team, or questions submitted by you guys, the viewers. Hopefully, you may find that some of these questions are similar to yours, and if not, maybe you’ll learn something new!


1) Congrats on breaking your all-time high rating this past weekend! What was your best game?

Thanks! As you may know, I played in the Open section of the Kingstowne Chess Festival. I finished with a win and 3 draws, finishing the tournament rated 1964. That being said, I think the best game I played was in the first round, my only decisive match

Ling – Steincamp (Kingstowne Chess Festival, 2014)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Be2 O-O 9.O-O Bd7 10.Rc1 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bc6 12.f3 a5 13.Qd2

14.Nd5 This move was premature. My opponent wanted to play f3-f4, so this move is actually mistake. Because the knight protected e4 from c3, White now has less flexibility, and a smaller margin for error.

14…Nc5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd4+ e5 17.Qe3 Ne6

18.f4?? When I saw this I expected my opponent to sacrifice the knight and play 19. f5, but 19… Qg5 wins for Black. 

18… Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nxf4 20.Bd1

20…Qg5! White has too much to deal with. The threat of …Nh3+ is extremely strong, and my opponent had to find 21. Rc2 to stay in the game. After the text move, I quickly went up an exchange and converted the point in the endgame

21.Rxf4 Qxf4 22.Qxf4 exf4 23.Bg4 h5 24.Bh3 g5? 25.Bf5 Kf6 26.Rc7 b5 27.Kf2 Ra6 28.Rc6 Rfa8 29.Kf3 Rxc6 30.dxc6 Ra7 31.h4 gxh4 32.Kxf4 Rc7 33.Bd7 a4 34.Be8 Ke7 35.Bd7 Rxd7 36.cxd7 Kxd7 37.e5

37…d5! Creating a passed pawn.

38.Kf5 Ke7 39.e6 fxe6+ 40.Ke5 Kd7 41.Kd4 Kd6 42.b3 axb3 43.axb3 b4 44.Kd3 e5 45.Ke3 Ke6 46.Kf3 Kf5 47.g3 h3 48.g4+ hxg4+ 49.Kg3 d4 50.Kf2 d3 51.Ke1 h2 52.Kf2 h1=Q 53.Kg3 Qf3+ 54.Kh4 g3 55.Kh3 Kf4 56.Kh4 Qg4# 0-1

This was a nice game because I punished my opponent for his 14. Nd5 plans. The game was relatively easy after I got up the exchange.

2) The Washington Chess Congress is this weekend. How are you preparing?

With one week left, there is very little you can do to improve your game. I will be playing in the Premier Section (same section as US Chess Champion GM Gata Kamsky), and all I will do this week is tactical exercises and review my opening lines. Try to get in some practice G/15 games online or with friends to practice, but don’t stress out too much.

3) Last week’s tactic was tricky, can I have another?

Sure, no problem. This game was from 1971 between Beyen and Filip in Luxemburg. White has an attack but how does he win?

White to Move

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 12.52.25


1. Bxg6 hxg6 2. Re7+ Rxe7 3. dxe7+ Kxe7 4. Rd8 Kxd8 5. h7 1-0 and the passed pawn pawn is unstoppable. Kudos to you if you solved this one.

4) What’s your favorite song to listen to before a match?

Right now it has to be The Man by Aloe Blacc. Hall of Fame by The Script also puts me in a relaxed but battle-ready mindset.

Don’t forget to send in your questions for next week’s edition of the Mailbag! You can leave them in the comments section of this post.

Chess Season Starts Saturday

Well, not literally. Chess is all year round, but everything will be in full swing after this weekend. This weekend I will play in the Kingstowne Chess Festival, and I will round out the month with the Washington Chess Congress and the Emporia Open. In addition to my tournaments, my school team is hosting its first free chess clinic of the school year on Monday, and will have a match against George Mason University on Wednesday.

With a loaded schedule, here is what I hope to accomplish by December:

1) Break 2000

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but with five tournaments on my agenda between now and December, earning 55 points seems perfectly reasonable. By breaking the expert threshold, I could be ranked as high as 60th nationally for my age when I turn 18 in November.

2) Beat a Titled Player

This was also one of my summer goals. However, with my only chance being my Virginia Closed opening round against Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg, I still have yet accomplish this feat. With a much more solid opening repertoire and tactical arsenal, I think I’m in a much better position to accomplish this goal.

3) Earn my first Candidate Master Norm

One of my long term goals is to earn the CM title before I head to college next year. Earning a norm now means getting a title later.

With my chess calendar full, I’m looking forward to the competition.

Isaac’s Mailbag, 3rd Edition

Hi everyone! I’m back with my third mailbag! As you know, each week I answer 4 questions that I have been asked since my last edition of the mailbag, either from coaching my high school team, or questions submitted by you guys, the viewers. Hopefully, you may find that some of these questions are similar to yours, and if not, maybe you’ll learn something new!

1) What is the best game of chess that you have seen this week?

Well, with the 2014 Chess Festival ongoing in Baku, its hard to not choose any of those games. Furthermore, with all of my preparation for the Kingstowne Chess Festival, any of the games I have analyzed would also be a more than respectable choice. But which game do I choose? My friend and teammate Charles, rated roughly 1300, trumps all of them, winning convincingly against the Yugolsav in a G/30 game today. Maybe I’m a bit biased towards players on my team, but preparation goes a long ways.

N.N. – Charles (Rated Game, 2014)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Be3 Bg7 6. Nc3 Nf6

7. f3?! A bit premature, as Black immediately punishes this attack with the following moves.

7…0-0 8. Qd2 d5! 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. 0-0-0 Nxe3 11. Nxc6 Qxd2+ 12. Rxd2 bxc6 13. Ne4 Bh6 -+ 0–1

The game goes on a few more moves but the result is clear, black’s tactic is decisive. Great play Charles! Just remember, opening preparation gets good games, tactical preparation wins games.

2) What’s a good read for this week?

Broad question, but I like it! I’ll stick with books I have not mentioned on this blog before, so The Art of Planning in Chess: Move by Move by Neil McDonald is a great read for all players. If you want more tactical games, start with the Fire on Board series by Alexei Shirov, it just might change how you see tactical play. Lastly, I have to bring up Secrets of Chess Tactics by Mark Dvoretsky, which helped me break 1800 during the summer and early fall of 2012. This book takes a while to work through though, so be prepared to calculate like crazy!

3) Show me a tactic I can’t solve!

This isn’t a question, but I’ll take it anyways. I’ve got White to move in this position, you tell me if the position is won, lost, or drawn!

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 21.35.05


I mentioned Krabbé’s website, Chess Curiosities, a while back on my blog, and later found that Krabbé found White’s winning move here in a tournament game he played back in 1986.

1. Ke2! Nb6 2. c5 Nd5 3. a3 +- And white wins the piece. You have to wonder what made Krabbé stop himself from playing the all-to-natural 1. Bd2. Take your time in the opening, and maybe you will find moves like 1. Ke2!

4) You mention chess24.com as a good resource for news on chess. What are some other news outlets that you would recommend?

So I personally like chess24.com services the most because I can watch tournament games live on their site. But I should add that chess.com also has high quality articles, especially those written by GM Greg Serper and GM Daniel Naroditzky. Chessbase also has a reputable website, as you can not only read news, but also connect to playchess.com, their own internet chess server. Those are the three main sources that I use to catch up on tournament events, but if you use different sources, please comment below!

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to bring it up in the comments section below!