Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Middle game

Good day folks! Long time but I come back with valid questions to you. I have more questions, but I will reserve some of t hem for future posts. :D 

# 1: It is often said that the average chess player is rated ~ 1500 (FIDE?). This is USCF distribution curve. So, basically most of the players are rated in the ~ 1500 range. When most of the players are rated in this range, why are the available resources customized for "Master" level players? When we look at the chess books store, 90% of the chess books are greek and latin to these average players. For example, "Fighting the Ruy Lopez". What benefit do these average players get from reading a complete book on the Ruy Lopez? Little to none. 

My question is why do the so called chess authors not focus on the average players? It not only makes sense for the players but it makes sense to the publishers as well, since the sale volume will be higher.


#2: Please see the image below: 

Black to move, the next move is obvious. In my honest opinion, (for average players), most of the time, the game is lost anywhere between 7th move to 15th move. I can coin the term "early middle game" here.Not exactly, but you get the point. Many average players memorize few opening moves and falter when the opening is done. They will have chance to recover if the opponent also makes mistakes but more often than not, the game is lost. 

When we look for chess puzzles to upcoming players, why don't we find many puzzles that come immediately after the opening?  I did a good search before posting this here. It also comes from my experience of looking at various resources as I teach young kids. Why aren't the chess resources (chess.com/ chesstempo/ chess puzzle books etc) focussed on Early middle game puzzles? The best out of a player comes only out of practice. But, the practice should also be optimized to bring the best out of the player. 

Some food for thought? 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Are you a rhythm player?

First, A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all of you! I hope you are having a blast of the New Year. The year is still very young, so not too late to wish.
Second, excuse me for not being a regular on my blog. With too much work on my plate, I could not even think about chess. The work won't cease anytime; neither will be the burden. I simply have to adjust to this routine and not lose my passion for chess. This is one of my resolutions for  New Year!
Are you a rhythm player? Everyone of us bring out our best when we do something repetitively and at regular intervals, that is for sure. Some of us are okayish even if we are not regulars. We still are not our best self, but at least not awful. Some of us are completely out of place when we lose the rhythm.
The latter category are what I call Rhythm players. These rhythm players are hard to come back into their best sometimes after a break. This often leads to lost interest in the game and attrition of inner talent.
With not much time on my hands, I have thinking to reduce to coaching only one or two players. I am not even able to devote  time for one student. The main problem with all this is I wish to do things when I am 100% into them. When I am not 100% into anything, I dislike to touch them even with a long pole.
Enough and coming to the main topic, one of my players is a Rhythm player. He is good when he finds the rhythm. When he doesn't, then he plays about 300 - 500 points lower than what his strength is. I have ignored all players completely for the last one year. This player is trying to find his rhythm all this while without my indulgence. But, he is unable. Now, he seeks help. He has been playing chess.com games, working on polgar puzzles, using chesstempo, etc. He has been staying away from tournaments though. The reason he states is he is unable to play anywhere near his best. He did play in one tournament but was beaten black and blue by rookies. He requested me to help him regain his best form.
Now, the question to you: What methods are to be followed to gain former form?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Coming back..!

There is not much to post right now, except a mention that will soon be back to playing, training and blogging on chess. Past year has been seriously very very busy. Chess has taken a rear and backseat; relocated; stopped coaching all kids including mine. 

Apologies to aoxomoxoa for not responding to his welcome few months back, sorry bro! And I miss all your posts as well....

Will find time very soon. Will will will...shall, shall, shall...

Friday, December 5, 2014


Taking a break from blogging.....................! Good luck to you all!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Theory vs Practice - Queen vs 2 rooks

In my last blogspot , I posed a question on who wins in that battle of Q vs 2P; I was more interested in 'how' though. AOX replied with Qh2, there was no Qh2 as it was black to move (and not white).  AOX sealed the discussion though, by mentioning that the King should move towards f4. Correct. That game was one I played as White. Either way, White had a very strong chance of win but definitely had to know 'how'. There was a fair chance of a misstep, taking into consideration that we are dealing with players rated around 1500, and one wrong step may cause difficulty for white and end up as a draw. I don't think there was a win for Black either way as the best chance was a draw.

I was reviewing game 5 of World Chess Championship with my students. At the above position, it is obvious that Carlsen had a knight vs Anand's bishop. Carlsen had double pawns as well. When I review games with my students, we do it OTB 1st. After we finish the game review OTB, we switch to  the computer review. When we were reviewing the above position OTB, obviously the students mentioned the 2 'weaknesses' about Carlsen's position. When we switched on the computer review, Houdini didn't show any significant disadvantage for Black.

Again in game 6 (position below), it is obvious that Carlsen is battling with double pawns on his side. The machines did not show any weakness though.

I was playing a tournament game with a ~ USCF 1600 rated player (higher than my rating).  I won this game comfortably. When we were reviewing this game after it was over, we paused at this stage where I was left with a Queen & a Rook whereas my opponent was left with 2 rooks and 2 bishops (position below, White to move). We calculated the piece values and my opponent said he should won if not for the mistakes he made. The value of the pieces was higher for him, but I said I will win 9 times out of 10 if I have the queen. We argued back and forth, he refused to believe that having a Queen was superior to having 2 rooks. Because theoretically, 2 rooks have more value than a Queen. Does it work like that though?

I will show you one more example. This time I am illustrating a higher rated game, not at the 1500 - 1600 level. A tournament game between a US National Master vs another similar rated player (not NM, but slightly below). Black had 2 rooks, a bishop, a knight and 4 pawns. White (National Master) had a queen, a rook and 5 pawns. Picture below, Black to move. They did not have any advantage with the positioning of the pieces or the pawns. Black made a mistake very soon, was down a piece and never recovered and White won comfortably from that stage.

In all the above games, the machines are showing that neither side has significant advantage. It is very easy to look at the computer analysis and say that the positions are even. But, is it that easy and straightforward? What do you think?

At the level (1600/ 2200/ Super GM) these games were played, does the inadequacies (having knight vs bishop/ double pawns/ Queen vs 2 rooks) matter? Or not? My opinion is that the inadequacies do matter in practice though in theory the positions are even.

May not matter so much at the Super GM (Carlsen/ Anand) level or the Koumoudo/ Stockfish 3500 rated level. But, the inadequacies do matter below the 2500 rating level, they make a difference.

Even though the positions are even, it is hard for the player with double pawns to chalk out a win. It is easy for the player with a bishop to win vs the opponent's knight in the end game. It is easy for the player with the queen to win vs the opponent with 2 rooks. In my honest opinion, it is an excuse for my 1600 rated opponent to think that "I made a mistake, otherwise 2 rooks can match the queen". My opponent had to coordinate 4 pieces while I was at ease to slide my queen all over the board to take out the pawns and pieces with forking the king and the pieces. I think for a 1600 rated player, it is very hard to coordinate 4 pieces when playing with an opponent with a queen and a rook. FYI, me and my opponent replayed the game from that position and I won again. I even offered to play with 2 of my pawns off the board. Not just 1600 rated level, I have shown you above a game involving a NM as well to support my point of view.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Q vs 2P endgame puzzle

Black to move, who wins? or draw? Based on the natural  assumption that a Queen is better than 2 pawns, white has the psychological edge. Sure? We will discuss in the comments section. This is a ~ 1500 rated problem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Delighted to lose - Mate in few

You teach your students all tactics, give suggestions. You play games with them. You watch them trying to get better than you. You start playing a game with your 8 year old student. All of a sudden you watch him smile and tell you that you will be checkmated. You sigh and continue playing but get checkmated in few...

I encountered such a situation today in practice. I played this game today (my rating swings between 1400 - 1500 just FYI) with one of my students, 8 yr old. He said you lost the game, well I couldn't figure that even when he said that. Ha! Black to move, Mate in few (you figure that out....!).

I have few posers to you:

1) Try solving this problem - Black to move
2) Tell me the rating of this tactic (Don't tell me I shouldn't be rated around 1400 hahaha.....)
3) I guess I have to admit and accept that this student is beyond my skill. He is 8 yr old and has been growing very fast in chess. What should I do with him?

Nevertheless, it is delight to see him do tactics everyday. It is a delight to see him yell that he solved XYZ puzzle while he does that. That is all one thing but I was delighted to see him show his skills in a game to beat me to pulp and laugh at me. I couldn't help but smile back at him......