Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last night's OTB game--A DRAW

So on the upside I drew someone about 500 points higher than me.

On the downside I once again made a plan and got an advantage and failed to capitalize!  Even when my opponent got desperate!  I do feel I played pretty well and saw tactics that just a few months ago I would not have seen.  Even when I played the wrong tactic on moves 36 and 37 it was NOT because I didn't see it I just made a poor choice of plan.

SO!  Things are getting better I just gotta keep on!

Here is the game:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peshka software review

I have talked a bit about the Peshka training interface from ChessOk before in this blog.

At first I didn't like it.  (I still don't like the Aquarium GUI from ChessOk but that is a different post!)

Then I tried Peshka again and now I LOVE it!  It is my main training software.  The courses (MOST of them) are of great educational value.  It has been BY FAR the best and most productive purchases I have made for LEARNING tactics.  I discuss the difference between LEARNING, PRACTICE and APPLICATION in this post!

Peshka Interface

  • Fairly easy to use.
  • Allows for quick maneuvering between problems
  • Exercises are NOT timed!  (you can see how much time you use but they aren't time for score)
  • Copious amounts of statistics so that you can chart progress
  • can store many courses
  • can have many users (great for multiple run-thrus of a course!)
  • GENERALLY remember where each user left off at a certain course
  • You can bounce around course to course in a session
  • Board looks nice!
  • MANY MANY course to choose from on the ChessOK website.  Lost of different subjects!
  • ChessOK Customer service is PROMPT, fair and VERY willing to please their customers!  A BIG plus!  (ya listening Chessbase??)
  • Sometimes forgets where you left off!
  • The ribbon interface (although it is not too bad on this software for some reason!)
  • Sometimes downloading a course can be finicky but it has not been a problem since they revamped the entire process a bit!
  • Research courses carefully as sometimes (SOMETIMES not often!) they have the same course with two different names.  BUT as I mentioned above their customer service is very cool! 
  • Does it what it is supposed to do:  Facilitate chess training without having to worry too much about the interface itself!  Very efficient!   I LOVE this software for tactics learning!!

Now I will give a brief review of  a few of the courses!!

Chess Tactics Level I, II and III
  • Very systematically designed tactics course that have raised my tactical level better than anything I have ever used.  Period!
  • Level I flows nicely into Level II.
  • The later sections, (labeled "How To Proceed") in Level II have no guidance.  You just have to figure out what the tactic is!
  • LOTS and LOTS of exercises for the money!  And that ain't even counting the repetitions I have done and am doing!
  • Level III is a big jump up in difficulty! So much so that I had to put if off for a bit!
  • That's it!  That is the only con!  But I have found the answer to get me ready for Level III and its name is..................

CT ART For Beginners

  • Has some small explanations of each tactic and examples BEFORE you get to the exercises!
  • LOTS of clearing and decoy exercises which are a weakness (for me anyway)
  • Seems the logical successor to Levels I and II mentioned above.
  • Nicely melds learning with some APPLICATION of tactics in its examples!
  • Probably not really for "beginners" !  If I hadn't gone through Levels I and II above, THIS course would be tougher and less edifying!

And now for a stinker course:

Opening Lab

  • Yes!  I am starting with the cons first.  I got this to have a nice opening reference with some explanations since I am not buying opening books.  The explanatory prose is weak and not very explanatory!
  • Some openings are giving nothing but a diagram and an "exemplary" game or two.
  • Only one:  Also includes tactics problems in each opening covered!  These are great for PRACTICE and APPLICATION exercises of the tactics I have been LEARNING in the other courses.  So this was not a total waste of money.
Overall Summary
  • Yes there are a few stinker courses in their library but overall they are high quality training courses!  The best I have seen for THIS kind of training.  Other great courses included their "Play like so and so" series.  I have the Botvinnik and Capablanca ones.  These are GOING to be a treasure trove of APPLICATION study!  And they aren't just for tactics.  ChessOK would do well to expand this line of courses.  I LOVE Peshka and the courses.  There are other factors but my small but definite uptick in play the past year can definitely traced to what I have learned and practiced in the Peshka interface and courses.  Believe me!  I did Reinfeld, Chessimo, Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors, Polgar's books, Heisman's tactics book etc, etc,  And NOTHING really stuck tactically until these courses!   (I will say that Chessimo is great but at a certain time...that is also another post!)   So I give the big thumbs up to Peshka from ChessOK.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The best G/15 I have ever played!

Since a scheduled long game didn't happen tonight I had a bit of time to waste and decided to bop on over to  I hadn't been there in awhile.  And I ending up playing the best short game of my life!!

I played my Bird-Larsen as White (an opening that is really growing on me)  I MIGHT even study it!  :)

I guess this game wasn't technically a Bird-larsen as I didn't play an early b2 but same basic gist!

And I won a really fun closed game.  Especially fun because it was a closed G/15!   Those don't always happen.  As the Bird-Larsen is sort of meant for attack I had LinuxGuy's words in my ears:  "don't play pattycake!  Attack when it is time!"

I almost attacked to early but stayed patient waiting for my chance and then I won!

(of course I made some mistakes but it was a really fun game!)

Here is the game with some notes:

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No OTB game this week and thoughts on OPENINGS...yeah!!

So, I was not able to make the OTB game this week as I had to take the cat in for some testing and wasn't sure when she would be done.  Nothing serious but I thought it unfair to wait until the last minute to request the bye.

So I am sticking with the Bird-larsen for a bit.  I am beginning to see some real potential in that opening and am finally beginning to see how to cope with White's ubiquitously weak e4 square.  I played some version 1. e4 for almost three years so it is time for something new.  And I will dabble with some 1. d4.

Loving the QGA with the Black pieces! 

Caro-kan.......THUMBS DOWN!!  Not a fun opening.  It is like a weak Sicilian!!  If I want to play that sort of passive first move as Black then the French defense is much better and leads to better games.

SO....I am Kanning the Caro-Kan and Picking up the Petroff!! 

WHAT YOU SAY?  Isn't the Petroff a boring dull drawing machine?

Nah!  The games can be unpredictable because it is not overly prepared for AND it can lead to some unique positions rife with possibilities.

So my official annual summer opening switch is:

With White:  From 1.e4 to 1. f4 (with an eye towards the Bird-larsen)

With the Black pieces:  From the 2...e6 Sicilian TO the Petroff against 1. e4 and from the Queen's Indian to the QGA against 1. d4.

And no opening books will be purchased or studied!  Just gonna learn by looking at games and playing experience.

At some point in another year or two I will probably halt my annual opening switch and pick a few I REALLY want to study and dive into.  I will probably (hopefully) be ready for that in a year or two.  We will see.

But I do think that switching openings once a year is healthy for the following reasons:

  • Keeps things fresh
  • one's overall chess culture is enhanced as he or she is exposed to a LOT of different chess positions and possibilities over time.
  • and when it comes time for real opening study, one will have a better idea what to really dive into as he or she will have experienced  a broader depth of openings!
I wish everyone a good weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A few games and I begin to see a real weakness in my play!

Sorry it has been awhile.  I got caught up in the end of the school year and then just didn't feel like posting!  :)

But I have the second  OTB game from last week.  A loss!

I am beginning to see a weakness (okay a couple) in my play. 

1)  I don't calculate far enough or look for enough variables!!  I am too often surprised by my opponent's response.

2)  I often have no idea what to do in the early middle game.

In the OTB game above, I had an edge after the opening.  An opening I have only recently begun to play and have not studied at all.  THEN I lose the thread when things get tense in the middle of the board around move 17.  Tense middle game positions with possibilities in the center seem to leave me a little befuddled!

So after my last game with RockyRook this coming Friday, I am going leave INTERNET chess for awhile and focus my weekend time on Styoko positions with complications in the early middle game.

I will still be playing my long OTB game every week so that is cool.

I hope everyone is well and I hope we get a result other than a draw in one of the World Championship games this week!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weekly OTB tournament, Game 1

WHAT fun it was to play a G/110!!  I lost but it was a really good game.  Really fun with some nice tension and equal chances for both of us at different times.  And everyone in the club was super nice!  I can't wait to go back for game 2 next week.

I lost a QGA with the Black pieces.  I DO like this opening!

I had my opponent on the ropes a coupled (as he did me as well!) in the end I could not figure out how to best solve the pawn issue on the b file and he converted the ending once he had it hand.


Here it is:


Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A new OTB tournament!

With the school year winding down I am going to embark on my first every WEEKLY tournament.  It lasts seven rounds and takes place on Wednesdays, beginning tomorrow night.

I am very excited as I have never taken part in a tourney like this!

I am also excited about switching to the Carok-Kann and Queen's Gambit Accepted with the Black pieces and also flirting with the Bird-Larsen attack as White (while still playing 1. e4 as well)

And this Friday, RockyRook and I will play our third game in a four game series.  Rocky has won both games so far.

AND I am really digging on Taimanov's game collection!  He has written great notes and picked great games.

I will post again Thurday regarding Wednesday night's game.