For today’s video, I played a G/15 ICC game which reached an instructive conclusion. After completing my opening development with relative equality, I just solidified my position while I allowed my opponent to create weaknesses of his own. Unlike my last Live Chess video where I was able to push the a-pawn to expose Black’s queenside weaknesses, this game was unique because I never really needed to establish a plan. I think the main takeaway from this game is when your opponent makes a move, you should not only ask why they make each move, but if their intentions put your position at risk. Once my opponent played Bc1-d2, Qd1-e2, White’s position became passive while I continued to expand on the queenside. Enjoy!
Hi everyone! This is my first Free Game Analysis post on chesssummit.com, and I’m really excited to get this section of my blog underway. For those of you who don’t know, if you would like to have your games analyzed by me for free, send your PGNs to firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you are lucky, I will post them on my blog!
For today’s post, I was sent two games from an up-and-coming amateur from the Northern Virginia area, Maciek Kowalski, who recently competed in the Washington Chess Congress. In just the last year, his rating has increased by roughly 275 points, getting him to his current best, 1472! That being said, let’s take a look at two of his games.
Kowalski – Offertaler (U1700 Washington Chess Congress, 2015)
Interesting games to pull out two wins, but I think the second game provided the most concerning point with the early Ncxe5?. Generally, when you are better, you want to hold your advantage. If you have the initiative, but continue to make the game even more complicated, you can risk losing your advantage entirely. Once you are better, don’t be afraid to play simple chess and just improve your overall grip on the position.
Hi everyone, I’m back with my first real post in ages!
As some of you already know, I’m repurposing this blog from breaking 2000 (which I successfully completed last November) to documenting my journey to the 2016 US Junior Open, and my goal to win the event. Obviously I’ve played a lot of chess since my last post, so here’s what I’ve been up to in the last couple months.
Part 1 – Summer Struggles
The last tournament I posted about was my performance in the Cherry Blossom Classic, in which I pulled a big first round upset by beating Jennifer Yu, a gold medal winner of the 2014 World Youth Chess Championships. After what had been a rather euphoric tournament for me things got harder before they got easier.
My next tournament was the World Open in Northern Virginia. Playing in the U2200 section, I didn’t exactly have many expectations, but I definitely wanted to see a continuation of progress in my level of play. My first round game proved to be one of the most testing, as I played an ambitious attacker. While the end result was a draw, the game was very dynamic and over the course of five hours went back and forth from the opening to the endgame.
56…Kd2 57.Kxb4 Ke3 58.Kc4 d3 59.Be4 d2 60.Bc2 Ke2 61.Ba4 Ke3 62.Bd1 Bg7 63.Ba4 Ke2 64.Bc2 Kxf3 65.Kd3 Kg2 66.Kxd2 f3 67.Be4 1/2-1/2 I got lucky in the endgame, but the opening went really well.
I actually wound up losing my second round, which was a first for me at the World Open (last year I had two wins and seven draws!), so I had to regroup. I won an uninspiring game in Round 3, but woke up the next morning and won a great game in the King’s Indian with Black.
Higgins – Steincamp (World Open, 2015)
Faced with a friend of mine in Round 5 that night, we took a quick draw to head into the last four rounds. With a score of 3/5, I was really liking my chances of leaving with a great result. The next morning, I played as an underdog, and after leaving the opening position with an equal position, my opponent hyper-extended and gifted me the point.
One element you don’t hear much of at the World Open is pure exhaustion. After round 6, I had spent 20 hours at the board. Even though I improved to 4/6 with a Round 6 win, the six hour game was draining, and was a big reason I couldn’t match my opponent’s high level of play. The final two rounds had the same story as well. My opponents and I were both fatigued, and caught in unfamiliar opening territory, I made big tactical errors in each to end the tournament on a three game skid.
While my first six rounds had given me a promising start, it was hard to process the bitter ending to the World Open. I hadn’t lost three games in a row in tournament play since December of 2012, and had me worried perhaps my Cherry Blossom Classic was only a blip and I still had a long ways to go before reaching the next level.
My next rated game was in my final game in the DC Chess League where I reached an interesting position on move 15:
Here I realized how much trouble I was in, I think the move I played was the only way to play for anything:
17… Nd7 18.Re4 Nb6 19.Rd1
17… c5 18.Ne4 Nc6 19.N2c3 O-O 20.Nxc5
17… e6 18.Rd1 O-O 19.Re4
17… Be6 18.Nf4
18.Re4 O-O 19.Rxc4 Be6 20.Rc5 Nd7
Its important to not get too carried away as White still has trumps 20… Rd8 21.Nf4 Rd6 22.Re1 Bf5 23.g4 +=
21.Rxc6 Ne5 22.Rb6 Rc8 23.Kb1 Nc4 24.Rb4 Rd7 25.Kc1 Ne5 26.Rd4 Rxd4 27.Nxd4 Bxa2 28.Kc2 Bc4 29.Re1 Nc6 30.Nxc6 Rxc6 1/2-1/2 With having to rush the last five moves to make time control, a draw was a good enough result. What did I learn from this game? Don’t be greedy! I had my opponent completely outplayed after 13… Qf2, only to let him back in later for a pawn.
The draw was disappointing, but learning from this opening actually paid off at the Washington International a month later. My next tournament was the Potomac Open, where, just like my DC Chess League match, I played really well in the openings, only to play the rest of each game mediocre at best. Finishing with a score of 1.5/5 (three draws and two losses), my winless streak extended to nine consecutive games, and with a week before the Washington International, I was honestly having a hard time finding out what had gone wrong.
Since the World Open, I had been working on my fatigue problem by exercising regularly. I had been studying chess every day, and since the spring, I had brought my tactics trainer rating from 2200 to 2400. I was going over openings and watching live commentary, so my recent spell of results had been puzzling. At the conclusion of the Potomac Open, I took a drastic measure and stopped studying completely. I jogged for 45 minutes everyday that week and focused on eating right and getting plenty of sleep. I wasn’t necessarily confident, I just wasn’t stressed – which I think is equally as important.
Part 2 – Redefining My Play
Looking back, the Washington International really reshaped my outlook on chess and my mentality over the board. I didn’t exactly have preparation to fall back on, so I used positional indicators to help me make decisions throughout each of the seven games.
Entering my first game, I remember feeling a surge of confidence as I waited for my opponent to come to the board. While my opponent was much lower rated and lacked the skill set to really challenge me, I really liked the way I played, and found it to be quite instructive for some of my peers:
This was an important game, as my nine-game winless run came to an end, and set me off with a running start. The next game would not prove as easy, as I got to play the top seed in my section, a 2200 rated player from Florida.
59.Ka7 Qa3+ 60.Kb6 Qd6+ 61.Ka7 Qc7 62.b6 Qd7 63.Ka8 Qa4+ 64.Kb8 Ke7 65.Kc7 Qf4+ 66.Kc8 Qf8+ 67.Kc7 Qd8+ 0-1 As I had eluded to earlier, my prior DC Chess League game over the summer gave me a big theoretical advantage over my opponent which helped me grind out my second ever win against a 2200 rated player.
While I got off to a good start in Round 3, my opponent found defenses, and I wasn’t prepared for the counterstrike, ultimately costing me in what would be my only loss in the tournament. I evened the score for the day with another win over a lower rated player that night.
My Round 5 game was my most memorable challenge. Playing a rival from my scholastic days, I had one last opportunity to sneak in a win against him before moving to Pittsburgh the following week. Faced with 1… b6, I put together an unorthodox response and quickly seized the initiative. My coach, Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn, even came out with a video on the game, documenting the way my opening put my opponent in a bind from the start (you can watch it on chesslecture.com, here). While both my opponent and I missed 32…Qd1!=, I left really happy with my performance as the win pulled me to 4/5.
Steincamp – Shih (Washington International, 2015)
You can watch the video linked above for comments from a Grandmaster, but I’ve left the analysis for the critical moment of the game.
I drew my last two games with relative comfort, taking a third place finish and 43 rating points for what would be my last tournament in the area before I moved to Pittsburgh.
Part 3 – The Move to Pittsburgh
Yeah, there’s still more – and I hope you all are starting to forgive me for not posting much this summer.
I moved in mid-August to the University of Pittsburgh to study Economics and Statistics, and I honestly had no idea what that would do to my chess.
Over the summer I had won an article contest on chess24 using my piece on Sam Shankland, and I was really excited to see my prize:
Perhaps having an engine named after me was a sign of good things to come.
Two weeks ago I played in the Pennsylvania G/60 State Chess Championships and finished 5th, finally (FINALLY) getting a top five state finish for the first time of my career. While G/60 isn’t my favorite time control, my 2.5/4 score gained me a few rating points, and this punishing game to share:
Steincamp – Wang (Pennsylvania G/60 State Chess Championships, 2015)
Simply crushing. The following week I played in my first match for the University of Pittsburgh against Carnegie Mellon University’s “B” team (all four boards over 1950!), and I won my game against an expert in 20 moves. Want to see that game? Make sure to check out my Youtube Channel on Sunday for a full recap!
And well now I’m here. With a goal to win the 2016 US Junior Open in New Orleans, I think that this should be a fun year. Make sure to check out my GoFundme page here to help me reach my goals for this year!
I made a video this morning of a Live Chess G/15 game against a higher rated opponent. The position got interesting and became a mess when I played exf5 and let my opponent’s light squared bishop into the game. Overall, I think this was a fun game with a lot to learn from.
This weekend I have the Potomac Open, in which I will play my 700th USCF rated game. Should be a fun event, and a lot to look forward to with the looming Washington International.
Over the past years, I think I’ve really learned how to use a computer to analyze games. Many times, the 3000+ rated engines suggest moves we don’t understand or aren’t capable of finding over the board.
Let’s take this position for example:
Steincamp (1993) – FM Lopez (2472)
I played this game in the third round of the Northern Virginia Open last November. Playing with the white pieces, I played the move Ke3 and offered a draw. My FIDE Master opponent thought for about 10 minutes and then agreed. When I put the position into my computer (Shredder for Mac, a weaker engine – but still much better than me!), it assessed the position as +1.04. I explored the analysis to find a potential break through, but the computer just told me play Ng4-f2 and wait for Black to play …e6-e5. I can slowly improve my position, but there is no distinct line that wins the game. While White is slightly better, I don’t think it’s fair to use the computer’s understanding of the endgame and say I should have won – as a knight v. bishop endgame is very difficult to win.
I found the best example of a computer suggesting an instructive move during the Norway Chess 2015 tournament in the Carlsen–Aronian game just last week.
Here Black holds a -0.82 advantage, but what does that mean? White has play in this position, as Carlsen threatens the move g2-g4. Aronian played the move 36…Qa1 but lost quickly after 37.g4 Qf1 38. Ne1!! as the rook is lost and all of the mating squares for Black are covered. So already, this position is worth looking at with a computer. We know with 36. Rc2, the black queen must move, but where? Common sense says …Qb4 (which is fine), trading the queens and moving into a risk-less endgame. What is the computer move? 36… Qb8! the only way to keep the advantage! The queen is on the same diagonal as the king, and if White gets greedy with 37. g4? then Black is winning – 37… Ng6 38. gxf5 exf5 -+ as now the queen must try to find squares that do not lose to a discovered check.
The takeaway from such a position, let’s say for Aronian, is not that he should have played 36… Qb8!, but a couple of different themes.
1) Full Board Awareness – The move 36… Qb8 is a very hard move to find (I only found it with help of an engine), but for a 2700+ rated player, it should not be unfathomable that Aronian could find it. Often times, players don’t like to retreat pieces in a position when they have the edge, but in this case, …Qb8 is the only active approach.
2) Playing Complicated Positions – I think for a ~2000 rated player, this position would be deemed equal if not for the …Qb8 move. Black is definitely on the attack, but it is unclear how Black would go about keeping the momentum while avoiding g2-g4 threats.
From using the computer in the second position, we quickly saw that the computer move was actually quite constructive. While Black isn’t completely winning yet, it shows how rerouting pieces is a crucial idea. I feel like from using an engine in this game, I can say I learned something and became a better player.
In my game, I think the assessment is correct, White is better. But at that time as a 1900 rated player, it is hard to see such obscure long-term ideas when playing a much higher rated player. I think looking back as a better player than I was in November, I should have played on – as the engine tells me here. But that’s it. The engine doesn’t give me the same constructive criticism as it did in the Aronian game.
So what does this all mean? I think engines are helpful – they find tactics, stronger positional moves, and solid continuations. But at the same time, as a player thats not a GM/IM, its hard to hold yourself to a 3000+ rated standard on every move. Everyone makes mistakes, and while we are all trying to get better, I think its a much better use of time to use a computer only in positions where we make bad decisions. Spend the rest of your times studying tactics!
Hi all! Its been a LONG time since I’ve made my last post, but with all my preparation for my final Virginia Scholastic State Chess Championships coming up this weekend. As I mentioned back in January, my goal is to finish 1st in the High School section, a feat I have never accomplished before.
While I hope to have more posts on a regular basis starting next week, I wanted to share this with you all.
I’ve never broken 2200 on chess.com’s Tactics Trainer before, and just two weeks ago I was in the mid-1850s, rarely getting problems completely correct. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from many players over the years about chess.com’s Tactics Trainer, and myself being one of them, here is how you can fix your problems.
1) Turn off the timer. If you are rated below 2000+ on Tactics Trainer, learning tactical patterns is more important than completing the puzzle in the recommended time. It’s much better to get a +6 than a -3 anyways 🙂
2) If the opponent makes a move, ask what good and bad things this move does and HOW IT CHANGES the position. If you bring this mentality, you are more likely to use the mindset you will have in a chess tournament. Practice the way you play, this will push you to use more time and look deeper.
3) Consider every move. Turning off the timer puts less pressure to make instinctual moves, allowing you to fully delve into each puzzle.
Today I came out with a Live Chess video! For this video, I played a G/15 game on the Internet Chess Club (ICC) and analyzed each position as I made my moves. After starting with a new opening, I took a relatively equal opening and played to a fairly dynamic endgame. Hope you enjoy!
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.
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!
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!
I can’t remember where I first heard about this website, but I’m sure glad I found out about it. Tim Krabbé’s website Chess Curiosities is filled with great games, tactics, and studies. Krabbé keeps an open chess diary, and posts interesting notes about the evolving world of chess. The great thing about Krabbé’s site is that it offers a lot of free PGN downloads that work for both Mac and PC. If you haven’t seen his site before, I would highly recommend giving it a look!
You can find Chess Curiosities here: http://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess/chess.html