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!

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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
Nd7

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

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Answer:

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.

Time Trials: A Study Technique to Break 1800

You’re probably familiar with tactics, opening study, endgame preparation, and the works. Boring much? I don’t blame you. Here’s a technique I learned in Japan from a friend, and expanded on it on my own. This is how it works:

1) Write down your time in tournament games

If the time control is above G/60, you should write down how much time you have left at the end of each turn (ex: in a G/60 match, 1. e4 (60) e5 2. Nf3 (59)). This is a good practice, because when you go over the game with your coach or computer, you can see if time was a factor in the decisions you made.

2) Go over the game immediately after the tournament

If you’re not already doing this, you’re making a big mistake. Going over your mistakes is the easiest way to find holes in your knowledge. We’re all human, so you’re bound to do something wrong in each round. I like to go over the game with my opponent after each round, and then again with my coach.

3) Come back in six months

At this point you’ve played many tournament games (hopefully), and in all likelihood forgot most of your analysis. That’s okay! Set up a board and a clock at the same time control that the game was played in. This is where you’re records of time come in real handy. For each turn, force yourself to calculate the position for as long as you calculated at the board, nothing more, nothing less. For example:

1. e4 (60) e5

2. Nf3 (59) Nc6

3. Bb5 (59) a6

4. Bxc6 (59) bxc6

5. 0-0 (57) Nf6

33. Kg3 (50) Qg4#

Okay, this isn’t a full game, but you can dissect something already from this notation. The white player spent 10 minutes for the whole game, which lasted 33 moves! The white player who would be doing this exercise should realize that he is moving way too quickly, and if he tried to calculate, he couldn’t possibly do a concrete job. This is one possible test to see if you are moving too quickly.

Of course, there is also the opposite problem too:

24. Nd4 (24) Nc6

25. Nxc6 (17) dxc6

White spent seven minutes calculating this exchange, so clearly this position gave him trouble. Hopefully, when doing this exercise, the White player can do the same analysis that he did on the board six months prior in less than 7 minutes. If this is the case, this is good! It means that not only are you learning from your games, it means that your ability to calculate is improving.

I found that this exercise really helped me realize that I was moving too quickly in critical positions, and after I implemented this practice, I not only improved my calculation techniques, but also my time management skills. Here’s a funny story, I actually stopped this technique for a few months, and for that period of time my rating remained stagnant. However, now that I’m doing it again, I’m playing better chess and calculating much more effectively.

 

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!

Building Up Your Tactical Arsenal

Rather than going over another game today, I figured that it might be better to give a study recommendation. I’m sure that everyone has heard of Lazlo Polgar’s famous book, 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games, and furthermore, I’m willing to bet a fair number of people own it! The reason why I want to talk about this book today is to break down how you should use it.

If you are a student of mine, you know I emphasize that you should study from this book every day. Polgar’s puzzle book offers puzzles, but if done consistently, teaches patterns as well. Write down your answers on a sheet of paper, and then check your answers when you are done. Below is my breakdown of how many of each type of puzzle to do. Keep in mind, you do not have to limit yourself to 16 puzzles, feel free to do more, but I recommend keeping these proportions on a day to day basis.

Rating: unr – 300 (20 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 13

Mate in 2s: 3

Mate in 3s: 0

If you fit in this rating range, its really important to understand all of the basic checkmates. By doing 13 mate in 1s everyday, you will force yourself to look for forcing moves, which is critical for improvement. Three mate in 2s everyday will allow you to apply your knowledge of forcing moves to slightly more complicated puzzles.

Rating: 300 – 550 (25–30 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 6

Mate in 2s: 10

Mate in 3s: 0

Getting into this rating range means that you recognize basic mating patterns and are ready for a bigger challenge. Mate in 2s may seem easy at first, but the further you get into the section, the more difficult the problems become.

Rating: 550 – 750 (40 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 0

Mate in 2s: 13

Mate in 3s: 3

Tactical patterns are now the most important aspect of your improvement. Continue doing mate in 2s but dabble in the mate in 3s section a bit! Try to become more efficient, you need to average 2.5 minutes a problem!

Rating: 750 – 900 (50 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 0

Mate in 2s: 8

Mate in 3s: 8

Odds are you’re starting to win games thanks to your tactical expertise, but that doesn’t mean you are done! Mate in 3s should prove far more challenging, but will help you understand famous mating patterns. I would say aim for under 2 minutes for the mate in 2s, a little over 4 minutes for the mate in 3s. If you have both leftover time and 100% accuracy, that is a sign for great things to come!

Rating: 900 – 1100 (65 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 0

Mate in 2s: 4

Mate in 3s: 12

Studying chess is time well spent, but you have to make the most out of it. Skip to the last few mate in 2s (Puzzle #3169 is a good starting point) if you haven’t gotten that far yet, as some of those problems are trickier than the mate in 3s (Hint– Not all the first moves have to be forcing)! As you do more mate in threes, you’ll learn more patterns, meaning more wins. I would shoot for less than 3 minutes for mate in 2s, roughly 4 minutes for mate in 3s.

Rating: 1100 – 1300 (48 minute time limit)

Mate in 1s: 0

Mate in 2s: 0

Mate in 3s: 16

Learning these patterns is integral to becoming 1400. At this point you need to only focus on mate in 3s, but here’s the catch: 3 minutes a puzzle for a total of 48 minutes! Hopefully you’ve seen many of the patterns already, as they will be repeated over and over again throughout the book. Efficiency eclipses tactical vision now, as you have to imagine you are in a tournament game and facing time trouble.

Rating: 1400+

If you’ve been using this book correctly, you have a solid base of tactical knowledge. However, as you may have already found out, you need to expand your studying beyond tactics: openings, endgames, positional play. If you want to keep tactics in your studies (like you should!) I’d recommend Artur Yusupov’s nine book series Build Up Your Chess! This is a good next step as it challenges you with tactics, endgames, and some intriguing positional concepts.

Have your own way of breaking down your studies? Feel free to comment below!

Learning from a Tough Loss

Everybody loses, but learning from those games makes you a winner. In today’s post I want to show a game that I lost but in return taught me the fundamental thematic ideas in the King’s Indian Defense.

Heading into this game, I was 1.5/3 at the National Chess Congress in Philadelphia, so for me, this was a must win game. Back then, I didn’t play as aggressively, but in this round I just attacked and attacked. While I lost, I discovered the importance of thematic ideas.

Adelson–Steincamp (National Chess Congress, 2012)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. d5 Nc5 9. Qc2

9…Ne8 Up to this point so far so good. Unfortunately, my knight on c5 was easily attacked later in the game, and cost me a bunch of tempi. Because of this game, I learned that I should play a7–a5 to solidify my knight on c5 and sustain pressure on e4.

10. Nd2 f5 11. f3

11…f4! This is a critical pawn push in many closed positions. The idea is to close off the White pieces from the kingside.

12. b4 Na6 13. a3

13…h5?! This is in the right spirit, but not the most efficient or orthodox way to attack the kingside. I need to play …Nf6 followed by a g–pawn push. By moving the knight, I would have brought in an additional piece.

14. Nb3

14…h4? Not a blunder, but terribly inefficient. Having moved the h–pawn, it makes my kingside attack awkward.

15. Na4 Nf6 16. b5

16…Nb8 Not a fun concession. By allowing White to attack my knight, he has successfully expanded the queenside and is ready to attack. If anything, he is slightly better.

17. c5 Nh5 18. Bc4 h3 19. Na5 b6 20. Nc6 Nxc6 21. dxc6+ Kh7 22. cxd6 Qxd6 23. Rd1 Qe7 24. Bd2

24…hxg2? White doesn’t have to take. In fact, by keeping his king on g1, he is perfectly safe. Meanwhile I had missed 25. Bb4.

25. Bb4 Qh4

26. Nc3? A good bluff from me scared my opponent. White should have taken the rook since my bishop would not be able to go from f8 to c5 because of the knight. However, by moving the knight to c3, White actually makes it impossible to take the rook. 

Bh3 27. Nd5 Rac8 28. Be7 Nf6 29. Qb3 Rfe8 30. Bb4 Bf8 31. Nxf6+ Qxf6 32. Rd7+ Kh6 33. Rf7 Qh4 34. Bxf8+ Rxf8 35. Qb4

35…Qd8?? While there is no easy win for me I am slightly better. By trading queens, I have no active pieces left, making the endgame an easy conversion for white.

36. Qxf8+ Qxf8 37. Rxf8 Rxf8 38. Rd1 Rf6 39. Rd8 Kh7 40. Ra8 Rd6 41. Bd5 g5 42. Rxa7 g4 43. Rxc7+ Kg6 44. Rd7 Rf6 45. c7 gxf3 46. c8=Q f2+ 47.Kxf2 g1=Q+ 48. Kxg1 f3 49. Qg8+ 1-0

While I lost, I learned a lot about attacking chess in this game. I saw how playing a7–a5 would have been a game changer for me, and I saw how a g–pawn push would have been much more methodical. By learning these ideas, I was able to win many games, this one a year later in Atlanta.

Jie – Steincamp (Castle Grand Prix, 2013)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. d5

8…a5! Not a brilliancy, but this move shows that I had learned from the previous game.

9. Rb1 Nc5 10. Nd2

10…Ne8 Unlike the other game, I can attack without worrying about my knight on c5. My position is a lot more simple.

11. b3 Because I played a7–a5, my opponent has to play the much slower b3, a3, b4 idea. This gives me more time to expand on the kingside.

11…f5 12. f3 f4 13. a3

13…b6! The simple solution. My knight will go back to b7, covering c5, making my opponent’s life even more difficult.

14. b4 axb4 15. axb4 Nb7 16. Nb3 Nf6 17. Bb2

17…g5! Again this is a much more effective way of undermining f3.

18. Ra1 Rxa1 19. Qxa1 g4 20. Rc1 gxf3 21. Bxf3 Ng4 22. h3

22…Ne3 Because I played the right idea, my attack is much more effective. Now I have an outpost on e3.

23. Ne2 Qg5 24. Kh2 Qh4 25. Nd2 Nd8 26. c5 bxc5 27. bxc5 Nf7 28. cxd6 cxd6 29. Rg1 Ng4+ 30. Bxg4 Bxg4 31. Qe1 Qh5 32. Nc3

32…Ng5 I have more active pieces, and while the game isn’t won yet, its much easier to play with black.

33. h4 f3 34. gxf3 Rxf3 35. Kg2 Rf8

36. Rh1 If 36. hxg5? Qh3# 

36…Nf3 37. Nxf3 Bxf3+ 38. Kh2

38…Bxh1 –+ By eliminating White’s defender, I now have much more play. The knight and bishop on b2 and c3 are doing absolutely nothing.

39. Kxh1 Rf4 40. Kg2 Rxh4 41. Qe3 Rh2+ 42. Kf1 Rxb2 43. Kg1 Qh2+ 44. Kf1 Qg2+ 45. Ke1 Qh1+ 46. Qg1 Qxg1# 0-1

By learning from an earlier loss, I actually became a better player, and my understanding of the King’s Indian grew substantially. If you think the game was a tough loss, then you probably were doing something right. Analyze and figure out what you need to tweak.

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!

 

Beating the Lower Rated Player

Chess is tough, and a lot of it has to do with ratings. Personally, I find facing lower rated opponents more intimidating than higher rated players because there is an expectation that you win. Meanwhile, as you slowly chip away at your position, the lower rated player solidifies and plays for a draw. This can be frustrating (trust me, I know), but there are simple ways to prepare for these games without taking too much time. By going over games in which you are the lower rated player, try to understand how the opponent broke your position down, especially if they play a similar opening. Odds are, you take the same mentality when playing a higher rated player as the lower rated player takes against you.

Below I have two games, the first, in which I was the underdog (2153 v. 1799), and the other where I was the favored player (1941 v. 1476). Hopefully by reading this post, you too can learn how to strengthen your play against stronger players.

Franco – Steincamp (2013)

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 c5 5. e3

5… e6 Already, this is a passive idea. This would make more sense if I could put a knight on e7, put preparing the d7–d5 push will likely leave me with an isolated pawn in the center.

6. Nge2 d5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. d4 cxd4 9. Nxd4 I think I would prefer taking with the pawn, but I actually used this line a month later at the Northern Virginia Open and drew a 2000+ rated player. By taking with the knight, white does not have a isolated pawn. However, in exchange he has a passive bishop on c1. If white can make this bishop active, then I have no compensation for my isolated pawn.

9…Nc6 10. O-O O-O

11. a4 This is an interesting idea. Usually this move prevents a b7–b5 push, but seeing as the position is open, this attack would not be a strong idea for me. White typically opts for Qb3, immediately putting pressure on my d5 pawn.

11…Nxd4 By exchanging the knights, White’s c1 bishop can get in the game. While White now has an isolated pawn, his g2 bishop is better than my g7 bishop since there is no knight on f3. Seeing that my opponent has more flexibility, he is definitely slightly better.

12. exd4

12…Be6  While it may not have been my intention, this move is not only passive, but communicates that I want a draw. 12… Qb6 may have yielded more play since 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 14. Bxd5 Qxd4 = solves my problems. White will most likely ignore the d5 pawn, but this queen move gives me some much needed development and flexibility.

13. Bf4 Nh5 14. Be3 Qd7

15. a5?! At this point I didn’t really see the idea. White is trying to open the queenside by bringing a knight to c5. This is an interesting thought, but white has plenty of time to do whatever he wants. My knight on h5 is doing very little, and my queen–bishop battery is doing nothing.

15…Rac8 16. Re1 Rfe8 17. Na4

17…Qd6 This move accomplishes nothing. For my opponent, he can take away two things. First, I don’t see his plan. Second, I don’t really know what I need to do in this position.

18. Nc5 b6 19. Nxe6 Qxe6 20. Qb3 Rc4 21. Bd2 Qd7 22. Rxe8+ Qxe8 23. Bxd5 Rc7 24. axb6 axb6

25. Ra8 White has opened this position, and has found far more active play. My passive play has resulted in an easy win for white.

25…Rc8 26. Bxf7+ 1-0

So for me, a game against such a highly rated player was rare, but my performance was extremely disappointing. However, since I play the English, I got some key take aways from this game. First, I learned that in these open isolated pawn positions, it is extremely important to activate as many pieces as possible. My opponent did a great job of rendering my pieces obsolete throughout the game, and made it hard for me to plan. Secondly, when both kingside bishops have been fianchettoed in an open position, having a knight on the f3/f6 square drastically reduces the play of the bishop. When I played this game, I should have considered this disadvantage when trying my e6–d5 pawn pushes in the opening.

These observations seem fairly basic, but in turn, I now know how to break down passive players in these kinds of pawn structures. The other thing is to keep in mind is that if I were to play a passive lower rated player as white in this kind of position. My performance in the game above is likely better than his will be. This doesn’t mean underestimate the opponent, it just means that in all likelihood that more tactical ideas will be possible in this game. After reviewing this blowout loss, I took what I learned into a game in which I was a 450+ point favorite.

Steincamp – Chen (2014)

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 d6 4. Bg2

4…Be7 This move is extremely passive. There is no plan for this bishop, and frankly should have been fianchettoed.

5. e3 O-O 6. Nge2 c6 7. O-O d5 8. cxd5 cxd5 9. d4 exd4

10. exd4 So despite starting with a different opening, we have reached the same pawn structure as the previous game. Two things I should note in this position are that a) Black wasted tempi playing d7–d6–c6–d5, when he could have tried 3… d5 line. And b) Black’s bishop is misplaced since it cannot easily attack my isolated pawn, whereas my bishop is. Already I have a better position as white as my earlier opponent had against me.

10…Nc6

11. Nf4 Here I chose to veer away from the a–pawn push idea like in the other game. This mostly had to do with less than perfect position of the bishop on e7. Also I have a tactic if Black tries …Be6

11…Be6? 12. Re1 Qd7 13. Nxe6 fxe6

14. Bh3! The critical idea. By weakening his d5 pawn I was able to create an even bigger weakness for black.

14…Kf7?

15. Bg5? Too much finesse I should have just taken the pawn and gone ahead in material.

15…Rae8 16. Bxe6+ Qxe6 17. Rxe6 Kxe6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6

19. Qb3 While I have a substantial advantage, the general thematics in the position have not changed. The d5 pawn is still very weak.

19…Rd8 20. Re1+ Kd6 21. Nb5+ Kd7 22. Qxd5+ Kc8 23. Qe6+ Kb8 24. d5 Nd4 25. Nxd4 Bxd4 26. Re2 Rfe8 27. Qxe8 Rxe8 28. Rxe8+ Kc7 Following the simplification, I won a fairly easy ending. 1-0

In this game, I didn’t follow the exact plan that I had lost to earlier, but the core of my plan remained the same. Activate pieces, make forcing moves, and win the d5 pawn. By understanding how I lost to a higher rated player, I actually learned how to beat a passive player in that position. Don’t let the lower rated player scare you, and learn from your own games!

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!

“Watchworthy” Chess Channels on Youtube

For most kids my age, Youtube is a place to relearn chemistry for tomorrow’s test, or kick back and watch stand–up comedy, music videos, or sports highlights. But did you know that there are some pretty good chess channels worth subscribing to on Youtube? Here are a couple of my recommendations.

1. Valeri Lilov

Lilov is an International Master from Bulgaria, and posts a fair number of videos on openings. I like his videos because they are more focused towards teaching thematic ideas rather that showing theory. While his videos are aimed to players rated about 1400, there are a couple gems in his video collection for both higher and lower rated players. You can find his channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/TigerLilov

2. Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

On this channel, the St. Louis Chess Center posts videos of past lectures hosted at their center. Averaging about half an hour each, masters often featured are GM Akobian, GM Finegold, and GM Yasser Seirwan. The St. Louis Chess Center also hosted the US Chess Championships this past year, so highlights and analysis for each round of both the men’s and the women’s section are posted on their channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/STLChessClub/featured

3. ChessNetwork

This channel is aimed more towards entry level players, so its great for kids! There are a couple advanced level videos on their channel, but not nearly as many as the St. Louis Chess Club Channel. The reason I like this channel is that if there is a specific pattern you must know, this is a good first stop. ChessNetwork has good videos on bishop and knight mates, rook against bishop mates, etc. https://www.youtube.com/user/ChessNetwork/featured

4. chess.com

This channel is a bit more laid back, and focuses more on the ongoing of major tournaments around the world. Popular videos on their channel include “Bullet Brawls” and “Hack Attack” with IM Thomas Rendle. If you are looking for more instructional content from chess.com, you should consider getting a Diamond membership (totally worth it) and watch videos on their site.

https://www.youtube.com/user/wwwChesscom

Hope that’s enough videos to get you started!

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!

Think Like Kasparov!

Kasparov's Immortal

This position is from the famous game, Kasparov – Topalov during the 1999 Wijk aan Zee. If you love tactics, chances are you know this one, but if not, this is a good puzzle to try and solve. Topalov just played 23… Qd6. How does White win?

Answer:

24.Rxd4 cxd4 25. Re7 Kb6 26. Qxd4 Kxa5 27. b4 Ka4 28. Qc3 Qxd5

29. Ra7 Bb7 30. Rxb7 Qc4 31. Qxf6 Kxa3 32. Qxa6 Kxb4 33. c3 Kxc3

34. Qa1 Kd2 35. Qb2 Kd1 36. Bf1 Rd2 37. Rd7 Rxd7 38. Bxc4 bxc4 39. Qxh8 Rd3

40. Qa8 c3 41. Qa4 Ke1 42. f4 f5 43. Kc1 Rd2 44. Qa7 1–0

Pretty crazy, right? Kasparov insists he saw the entire variation from his initial calculation on move 24, but a lot of critics doubt he saw the entire 20 moves. What do you think?

Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!

One Week From the World Open

One week from today, I’ll be leaving for the World Open to play in the 5 day U2000 section. As of right now, I’m the 21st seed in a section of 104 players, so I’m in the top fourth of the section (just barely!). I’m feeling pretty confident about the prospects of a strong finish, as this past weekend I finished 2.5/5 in the U2200 section of the Castle Chess Grand Prix in Atlanta, GA.

With just a week left before the World Open, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Play one long game every day (G/30 or higher). Don’t obsess over results, just focus on calculation and tweak your openings if necessary.
  • With each day leading up to the World Open, go over one of your openings. Don’t spend more than an hour and avoid memorization. Just look for thematic ideas.
  • If you haven’t been studying, then its too late to stress out over tactics and opening theory. Remember, you’re playing chess because it is fun, not because it is a stressful burden.
  • Start going to bed at a reasonable time. Stay up late this week, and you’ll have a hard time getting sleep during the week of the World Open.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes on tactics everyday. You’re much more likely to win on a tactic than opening preparation.

Good luck if you are playing next week in the World Open!

Feel like I’m missing something? Feel free to comment below!

Quality Endgame Resource

My favorite endgame book has to be Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sunny Side of Chess Endings. I think I first read this book when I was rated about 1000, and even though I am nearly twice that now, I still love to look through it and review endgames ideas and techniques. The organization of this book is superb, and the way it groups positions helps teach/reinforce pattern recognition. In the first edition (the copy I own), Ger Van Perlo covers over 1000 positions, and if you work with the book correctly, then you will learn something new every time you open the book. There are some subtleties in each position, and as you become a stronger player, you will be able to pick up on these ideas. I’ve owned my copy for at least five years (probably more), and its a worthwhile read. I know that a second edition has been published recently (2013), and while I have never seen this book in person, if it is anything like the first edition, then it is a great buy.