Building a Strong Foundation

Like any other endeavor, success in chess begins with a solid understanding of its basics. There are many things to keep track of during a game such as weak squares, hanging pieces, or blocked minor pieces just to name a few. So how do we navigate this complex game and find success? My firm belief is we find more consistent victory and enjoyment by creating a strong understanding of the basics.

I was introduced to the game at the age of 5 or so by my father. Although I greatly enjoyed the game, there wasn’t much of a chess scene where I grew up around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Like many other kids my age, I soon replaced chess with video games and less academic interests. It wasn’t until much later that I returned to the game and with a passion I had never had for any other venture. Now 20 plus years older than when I moved my first pawn, I have learned how to learn and have developed a more mature way of thinking (although my wife may disagree). Essentially relearning chess at an older age has given me a unique perspective on the game and way of teaching the basics, a way that I believe to be simple and effective.

My goal in writing for Chess^Summit is simple: to share concepts and examples that anyone can digest and learn from. There is some “common knowledge” in chess that may not be available to beginners if they never had a coach or formal training. Indeed until I started working with a coach there were many, many basic principles I just didn’t know. While my articles may seem primarily aimed at a novice to intermediate level, there is always something to be rediscovered in studying the fundamentals of the game. Truly, masters of any discipline need to revisit the basics from time to time.

As a resident author at Chess^Summit, I will be sharing biweekly articles with you. In an effort to make the material as accessible as possible, I will keep most things as basic without going into too much theory. I think one of the great joys of the game is finding a topic you’re interested in and doing your own research leading to your own unique conclusions, discoveries, and “aha!” moments. As I am more of a visual learner myself, I will also share easy to understand diagrams and examples to reinforce ideas. I’m excited to share on this platform and look forward to discussing the game we love with you.

You can follow me or chat with me on Twitter @danschultzchess

 

 

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11 Crazy Things that happened to me in Europe this Summer: On and Off the Board

Having been inspired by the one and only Kostya Kavutskiy and his Best of US Chess of 2016 article,  I spent 2 months traveling through Europe this summer as a chess vagabond.

I’ve been so grateful to use chess as a vehicle for seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things.

Here are some of highlights of my summer trip that will hopefully inspire other readers to try the nomadic chess lifestyle:

I got obliterated by Shirov

Growing up, I had idolized Shirov. I’ve had a copy of Fire on the Board for as long as I can remember. When I got the opportunity to play him in a small rapid tournament in Latvia, I was eager to put up a tough fight.

Unfortunately, I did the complete opposite of putting up a tough fight. I totally collapsed in the opening. It was ugly. My position was resignable on move 11. To make things even more embarrassing, the whole catastrophe was caught on video:

I got crushed by Sveshnikov

Later in the same tournament, I got to play Evgeny Sveshnikov. I played d4 to avoid his Sveshnikov variation, but he beat me anyway.

I saw a flying polar bear

IMG_9804Prague, Czech Republic

My Czech friend Katerina Nemcova has always told me that Prague is a magical city. I didn’t realize it was this magical.

My two queens were not enough for Nabaty’s two rooks and bishop

Rosen-Nabaty after 65...Rf8+

As I stared at this position with less than 1 minute ticking down on my clock, I realized my doom. It’s not everyday you reach a position where your king and two queens are all under attack. Kudos to GM Tamir Nabaty for finishing me off in spectacular fashion.

Rosen-Nabaty
Photo by Pavel Kirs

Here’s the full masterpiece:

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I let some fish snack on my feet

Prague, Czech Republic

IMG_3977

This so called “fish spa” is actually a popular thing in Prague.  These special breed of fish called Garra Rufa nibble away dead skin, leaving the feet feeling silky smooth. I paid about $35 for 20 minutes of nibbling. My feet were super smooth for the following several weeks!

I snacked on some fish

Teplice, Czech Republic

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When I ordered the trout, I was not expecting the entire trout (eyes, teeth, and bones included) to be sitting on my plate. I reluctantly consumed the meal, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering trout again anytime soon.

I executed a queen sacrifice leading to double checkmate.

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The heading should offer enough of a hint…Black to move!

Here’s the full game:

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I defeated a WGM in 9 moves

I had the honor of playing WGM Jana Bellin who has won multiple British Women’s Championships and currently serves as the medical officer for FIDE. Unfortunately for her, she did have the best game and actually apologized afterwards for losing so quickly.
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I flew through the mountains of Benasque, Spain

With a drone that is.

I defeated Magnus Carlsen’s former coach, Simen Agdestein.

The full game is well analyzed by FM Chris Chase in The Boston Globe.

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The day after defeating Agdestein, I discovered the following music video on YouTube…

 

I’m so glad I didn’t watch this video before I played Agdestein. It’s a difficult thing to unsee.

I witnessed someone become a GM

That someone is Andrey Kvon. He defeated GM Ivan Sokolov (with the Blumenfeld Gambit!) in the last round of the Xtracon Open in Helsingør, Denmark to secure his final GM norm. His rating going into the event? 2500 exactly. Here’s what becoming a grandmaster looks like: 

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