Saturday, December 30, 2006

Thought and Choice

Last year's Christmas present I asked for never arrived. So I asked for it again ( and made sure I was a better boy this year). My son found "it" on e-bay this year and it arrived Thursday! Degroot's Thought and Choice in Chess is the book that WAS ordered last year on my list and when February rolled around, I was told that it was still unavailable and offered us to cancel and refund. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this land before the new year!
Yes, part of the quest de la maza finds its roots in this study which basically comes out and states the fundamental difference between master and patzer is the number of patterns committed to memory ( in order of magnitudes). But to summarize this book in such a one lined "sound bite" does not give enough justice to the rest of the book. It starts out building from the foundations of previous studies like Binet's study of grandmasters and simultaneous blindfold capabilities.
Will this make me a better chess player? Probably not. So why am I diving into it? I want to develop better insight into my own thought process as I make these over the board. To have such a journal that referecnes Alekhine, Euwe, Keres, Fine, Tartakover and other power houses of a generation ago is priceless and humbling.
As I am learning about my gaps and ultimately practicing thought and choice by doing tactical problems, strategical studies, endgame analysis and openings, my game will improve. I hope the insight I gain in this treatise will help me better understand my limitations.
Happy holidays! BP

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One in a Row!

That's my current winning streak. Its all a matter of perspective. I played yet-another-kid last night at the club who managed to reach a rating as high as mine in the same time it took me to loose rating points, gain some and then loose them again in a never ending battle of a self improvement. My problem is I am also fighting old baggage, poor chess habits, and .... age.

I play black against an 1.e4. He seemed to be unprepared for the Caro-kann. I managed to get both my bishops active and seriously controlled the center before he had a chance to castle. I wiggled a couple pawns from him giving me an endgame advantage. I shot for the endgame with exchanges that he was trying to avoid.

I gave back a pawn for the initiative and this killer position which gave me 2 count them TWO rooks for ONE bishop! ( White to move and lose) Huzzah.

After losing the two rooks ( and then the Bishop), he looked at my two rooks and his lowly king on the edge of the board and extended his hand offering a DRAW! I couldn't hold back the laughter as I declined the offer stating " I think I will play this out, I need the practice."

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Aftermath

It was a good fight overall but I still lost some blood. Only a pint ( from a half pint)

Round one I was paired up against the second highest rated in my section. I had Black and played into an Exchange Slav with a new weapon, g6. My problem was that I was CLUELESS to this system because I never really studied it. I only played it because I found myself on the other side of a Pillsbury attack. I knew a fianchetto bishop is a good cure for that.

I did alright up until I had this bad plan of opening my g-file ( yes I was also castled on the king side but I figured all the pieces were on the Queen side and I could create an attack. The exception was that I really didn't have the initiative and I would have been better playing in the center. Now, who was it that said " A bad plan is better than no plan"?

Round 2 I got to try out the Smith Morra gambit! HUZZAH I won and felt I actually had a clue as to what to do. My opponent didn't take my c-pawn and instead advanced the dpawn... I was still able to storm in. I'm encouraged to continue this track. Considereing I just learned this last week!

Round 3..... Hmmm .... I played a kid I once beat in May but this time his rating had shot up 200 points ( so that's where my rating points went!) I played a White into a French Winnawer using the lines in the Perehlstin/Alburt/Dzindi book and came out of the opening a pawn up with some space. It goes down hill from there. For some reason I blocked out the priciple of exchanging pieces when ahead in pawns. I played too passive and afterwards found four blatant errors in my game. It was a rather embarassing loss too. I even threw in a howler of a move had the kid been on his toes could have snagged my queen. I deserved the zero on that one.

Round 4 was a slam dunk against 1.b3... need I say more. I used all the sound opening principles from Reubin Fine.... both my e and d pawn were in the center, Knights before the bishops, castle early and often!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Preparing for Battle

After having my head examined (see this post) I have began to revamp my opening and tactical studies. I decided to hone in on the 4 Knights Scotch Game for the double e-pawn games ( if allowed) and actually had a chance to play it at the club with a stronger player. ( I was lucky to draw the game after I made a positional err giving up a q-side pawn in the middle game).

I have been ramping up on the Smith Morra gambit in place of my silly ...never seen before... what the hell is it called 2.c4 anti-sicilian after having a luke warm result with a much weaker opponent. Moving to the SM Gambit seemed logical since I really want to better understand the Scotch gambit in the Openings for White Explained Book. I figure if I can baseline with the 4Knights plus the SM Gambit, it will go a long ways in understand and eventually transitioning to this system.

So this weekend I will go to the Henry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial in Marlboro and play in the under 1850 section. This will be a lot more reasonable than my last rant when I went nuts in the U2100 section.

So for now, I've been spending 60% of my time on opening preparation ( because of the course corrections) and 40% on tactics. I am back to doing the circles of hell but this time, I ma slowing down a bit on each puzzle and trying to evaluate the position first rather than jump in and guess and realy on memory. I seem to get more mileage this way becuase in a real game, I need to evaluate the position anyway. Learning to recognize when there is a tactic under these conditions is much better practice rather than blitzing and Berserking like a wild man ( my old way of doing things).

Well, my battle scars have healed since the last melee. I've sharpened my lance and my steed is watered and rested. My quiver is full and of course the sword is right by side.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Had my head examined..

We should ALL have our heads examined once in a while. What I am talking about is taking the "Chess Exam" by Igor Khmelnitsky.

First a few general comments:

I liked the flow of the exam and how it had breaks every ten puzzles with an interim report.This made it easy to pace myself. Secondly, I liked the fact that nearly ALL the puzzles required an evaluation of the position rather than finding the best move. This seemed to support the DeGroot theory that Mastery is not only in the quantities of pattern recognized, but the ability to quickly and accurately evaluate a position. I wish more books were like that.

I did find some problems that could have had alternative solutions ( like some of the other Knights have mentioned in other posts) but overall, I think taking this exam was beneficial in the fact of the 100 evaluate-the-position problems put me in the right mind set for virtual OTB play. While taking the test I had to fight the tendancy to rush through it to get my resuslts. although about 30% of the exam, I felt I did just that. But if this is a reflection of my OTB then I can walk away with this lesson as well. There are times when I am playing a game and I move quickly. I scored much better on the test when I took my time.

My results:

WTF? Tactics is LOW? I was shocked to discover this. What? ME? a Knight Victorious? After going through the seven gates of hell I scored like a class D? I must have REALLY sucked on tactics prior to the 7 circles. I wonder if this would have changed had I taken the exam in May when I was first finished. After all, I kind of stopped the regime until recently.

Openings and recognizing threats were two other areas where I was in the lower class. So like DUH, I need to learn my openings and do more tactics... something I've been doing.

I was surprised to fing out my strategic knowledge was my strength. I always felt it was a weakness and tactics was strong. Overall, my average rating seems to be right on the mark ( low 1600's) based on the exam leaving me to believe this is a fairly accurate assessment. I need to improve my opening knowlede and learn to recognize threats and tactics. ( Still)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why Don't I Get IT????

Why don't I just chuck all my freeking chess stuff out the friggin window?( At least my wife would be happier).

Why after thousands of tactical problems do I STILL FRIGGIN Not see tactics ( My opponents especially)?

Why am I trying to learn a new opening system when I haven't even "learned" the old system thoroughly?

I'm a "tard" that's why... a dense knuckle dragging neanderthal grunting my way through the 64 squares only to make the same mistakes over and over and over.

Sure! I *could* get a coach... but with three kids in college and More in the queue I'd rather throw my money away at the entrance fee to weekend tournaments.

So, the past couple of events I went too hasn't been too spectacular. I played at the Sudbury River Fall Classic back in October. I had one good game that was "broadcast" via a Mon Roi ( over prived PDA) system here : ( If you have trouble it was the second game of OCT 21 in the database section.. DUVAL). From there my games went down hill.

Yeah, I've been using my "new" e4 stuff but to tell you the truth, I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. There is so much to learn and so little brain in this "Tard". I've been playing the white side of a lot of Caro-Kanns which would be good since I play as black... EXCEPT because I am studying for all the OTHER crap that Black can throw ... those memory banks are further supressed or squeaked out. You know, mind like a seave! That's me. I used to know that stuff but ...NOT ANY MORE... since I have to look at Sicilians, Frenches, Alekhines, PIrcs, the Friggin Modern... and the list goes on. BAH!

So today's howler adds insult to injury. First off, I went to a One day in NH. I played in the Championship ( U2100) section of the Amateur. I lost ALL OF MY GAMES. My first two games I had Black. Both times I play the Caro-Kann ( because I can) and BOTH times I was faced with the Exchange Panov. This used to be an easy opening for me until my wiring went nuts. After move 12 I reached this position after ( 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd54. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Nf3 Bb4 8. Qc2 Qa5 9. Bd2 Nc6 10. Bd3 Bd711. O-O Rc8 12. a3) .

Blunderprone struck again and played 12...Be6 instead of Be7 which he justfied in his head by saying "Be7... is a panzi move ...too passive... Nor do I want to give up the bishop pair and exchange for a knight." I Just didn't see the crushing 13. Nb5. Grrr.

The rest of my day went in down the toilet with most of my rating. The second game I was BLACK AGAIN... and played into a Panov poorly. Round 3 I was met with the generous MR. BYE and got a full point ( but no ratings). SO I got to play an unrated player. I hesitated and played 1.e4... what could go wrong.... well. I dropped a pawn and the bugger exchanged down to the endgame. Foretunately, I had some Neanderthal wits about me and managed to win a K+Ps end game with a pawn done by the fundamental concept of Opposition. Yeah... my highlight... big frigging woop.

My last round I was paired with yet another 1700+ player as white. I made a last minute decision to use Ye Olde D4 ( go ahead throw the rotten tomatoes after my ranting about moving to e4). I have to tell you, for most of the game I had the upper edge... I felt like I knew the position despite NOT LOOKING AT THE BOOK FOR THREE MONTHS... I had the pressure on the king side going up until the last 5 moves when I exchanged my strong e5 outposted Knight. The game unraveled and I lost the point.

So what does this all mean? I haven't a clue. Maybe I should give up chess altogether... Ok ... that thought passed. But seriously. Why do I go through all this struggle only to flippin blunder STILL? It sure would be a lot more fun if I can pull together a few more wins. I know I have it in me... but lately I can't seem to get my friggin act together.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My debut with 1.e4...

The transition from the familiar positional 1.d4 to the more tactically prone 1.e4 was very much like crossing over to the DARK side. So far this month, I've played white only 4 times with 1.e4.

I've been playing up a section at the club ( the Open section) and had the "Honor" to lose to a 2460 was a nice "lesson". I went to a weekend tournament and played in the U2100 and finished with 2 points despite being at the bottom of the section. One of those wins was with white 1.e4.

I faced a couple Caro-Kanns, one opportunity to play the Skotch Gambit and a Modern defense. So far I have only one win against a 4....Nf6 Caro-Kann. The other CK I lost because I was getting too agressive ( still playing cowboy moves) . Since the Caro-Kann is like forcing white to play positionally with a d4 game, I still am out trying to evaluate the move.

In the game I played the Skotch Gambit, I definitely had a lot of potential but I misplayed the opening. This was encouraging as I played against a strong ( I may post the games at a later point but I need to revisit how to do this as the java applet I used to use is a BEAR to work with in this blog).

I'm anxious to attempt my 2.c4 silly sicilian game. I am also working on a response the Pirc, modern andAlekhine.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I have a new Floor!

Despite my extreme roller coaster chess rating ride this summer. A recalculation at the USCF MSA area reveals I did actually peak 1703 giving me a new floor of 1500!

Now, if I can manage to stay off the floor with my new opening repertoire!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Debut of......

1. e4! I know ... BIG woop! But for me being a 1.d4 player for so long because I feared the MANY variations I had to learn in order to play 1.e4, this IS a big WOOP!

For mirrored e-pawn games... I am going to attempt the Scotch ( tape) Gambit ( 1.e4,e5 2.Nf3, Nc6 3.d4, exd4 4.Bc4...)

For the French, I am comfortable with the classic and have my lines prepared for the winnawer and all the other non-main line sub variants.

For the Caro-Kann... Globular was close but its a toss up between the Panov-Botvinik or the Advanced Bayonet! Being a C-K player, these were my most pesky oppositions.

Now... for the one I feared the most.... da Sicilian. Are you ready for this ... I had to go obscure ...the voices in my head suggested I do 1.e4,c5 2. c4! followed by 3.f4 if black doesn't freak and play 2.e5 pulling it into a symmetrical English Botvinik. Sick? You may think I am pawn short of a complete set, I did a database search on the position and found a couple GMs had played it. Alekhine was one, Alexandra Koestnik was the other. But the system I am following is interesting. Pretty much abandons d4 for rapid piece deployment and action on both the b and f files. Fritz had some fun with it and I hope to continue this trend with real OTB games.

Well, that's my big debut.... I am ready to play these this month but yet to have white at the club or an actual opponent. As it turned out this week, I signed up for the open section. I am the lowest rated player in the section and figured "what the hell". If I am going to lose....might as well lose to MUCH higher rated folks as I adapt to an new opening repertoire.

One of the kids at the club ( Tim B.) was upset that I was abandoning the London. Not really, I just want to put it on a shelf for a while. I need to exercise the other hemisphere and play some e4 action.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

One trick pony

I've been secretly working on a new repertoire to debut this month. I've been running into "stale" opening syndrome. My once vibrant London system as white seems to have hit the wall. When I first adopted this opening 2 years ago, I had a lot of success with it since most of the folks in the area weren't familiar with it. Since then, most of my opponents I face in the area have a good understanding of how to handle it. Sure, I can continue and look for deeper 18th move variations that may give me a plus over equal position but I feel its time to venture out.

Basically, I don't want to be a one-trick-pony. The London was a good opening for me since it was easy to learn and understand. The Pillsbury attack was my friend and an occasional Bxh7 was exciting. But I need to venture off this path. I will reveal my new white repertoire at a later date since some of my local opponents do read this regularly.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fear and loathing in the U1900 section at the N.E. Open

Gonzo chessplaying in the class section of the New England Open as reported by a gonzo player. ( warning, long rant of a post hopefully you will find amusing)

The U1900 section at this year's N.E. Open presented a large and diverse group of 34 players. We had good local club representation by both Metrowest Chess and Boylston Chess clubs, as well as some out of staters join in the fun. We had some strong teens like Jessica Wamala, Anabel Bacon, David Yasinovsky, Tim Bromly and Jacob Gillis. At the other end of the spectrum were Harold Dondis and John Hallahan who played all six rounds. The Kids did alright. Kevin Ma tied for second place in the section with 4.5 points. David and Tim tied for third and the under 1700 prize. Top prize in the section went to Dale Lyons of Vermont finishing with 5 points After taking a bye for the last round! Either way, he secured first place ( tie at worst) with the 1/2 point bye since all the others had only 4 points or less.

Somewhere, right smack dab in the middle of the section was where yours truely sat and finished. I've had the summer off from work and devoted the time to chess ( and taking care of a "honey-do" list). Before you ask, no I am not a teacher... just an overworked engineer working for a comapany that offers these things before the employee burns out, goes postal, or ( in my case) the division gets sold.

My goal was to reach 1700 and after the results in Stamford at the Northeast Open, I was almost there. but this is where things drifted south. My poor scores at the Club, the Continental and the Northeast One-day events had my rating doing a freefall. This weekend was going to be my recovery tourney.

First round I was paired with Bruce Stone from NH, we joked because both of us get beaten up on these weekend events. So it was like " let's get this over". I had a fairly easy win after he blundered last and lost the exchange leaving me a rook for a Bishop.

Second round I was paired against Mark Goodwin, an 1800 player who ended up finishing second. I thought I played rather solid against him making sure my thought process was improved over the past month's fiasco. I reached a quiescent point in the game had I exchanged down would have drawn ( Mark told me after the game) ...instead... well... I lost.

Let me digress a bit about the playing conditions. The Sheration Four Points hotel in Leominster is your typical weekend chess warrior hotel with enough banquet halls to host several events. Fortunately, a battle of the bands was not simultaneously scheduled, rather, a wedding party on one day and a car show on another day.

I'll digress some more... it seems like chess tournaments and car shows go hand in hand in New England. It seems like the Continental Open is ALWAYS on the same weekend with the Four Seasons Rambler club gathering in Sturbridge ( last weekend of July). RAMBLERS! These are classic "family" cars ...not hot rods or "muscle cars" ... RAMBLERS! ( please don't take offence). They usually have a loud PA system with "oldies" music playing. Which makes for an interesting challenge during the Saturday afternoon rounds to concentrate. It's bad enough the voices in my head tell me to make bad moves but when its done to the tune of Roy Orbison's "Runaway" my game tends to go in a direction that wasn't planned. I've learned to bring ear plugs to these tournaments because you never know what stroke of genious the hospitality folks at the hotel have in store.

Now I'll come back to Leominster. It was a much quieter setting. The cars were outside ( about 200 of them. Chevelles, Mustangs, street rods, Cameros and only 3 Ramblers). The PA was buffered by a whole side of the building that soem of the chess players didn't even notice the car show. The wedding party was apropriately buffered by 2 banquet halls between us. The only noise we had to contend with was an annoying fan belt in the HVAC system that sounded like a classic star trek phasor on stun. I was glad to have my ear plugs.

One player was not too thrilled about the oscillations from above and asked ( demanded rather... while pointing to a section in the Official USCF rule book) the TD to be moved to a separate room with less noise. We lost the skittles room as a result.

Rounds three and four were my worst. This is where the "fear and loathing" comes in. Tim Bromly plays at our club and I have beaten him before. His rating has been steadily climbing over the past year and is closing in on mine rather quickly. So the fear factor hit. I knew I needed to beat him or lose another pint of blood from my already depleted rating. Even more interesting was the fact that both of us play the same opening system as White... which was the side of the fence I had.

I decided to take him into 4.dxc5 variation of the london system since I was looking at this obscure sideline for a while. By move 12 or so, I came out of the opening on top with astrategic advantage on the queen side carrying 3 connected passed pawns. Then I took a risk. I calculated what I thought was the only three replies for black and took the calculated risk. Tim played the fourth reply I never considered and I squandered away my strategic advantage as well as the point.

Now, loathing was setting in... desparation.... I was faced with another tough kid that was under rated. He walked into my early Qc7 variation of the exchange Caro-Kann. Then the haluciantions started to set in. His bishop on d3 was playing hide and seek in the following position after this sequence of moves 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd54. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Qc7 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. h3 Bd7 8. Nbd2 e6 9. Qc2 :

Now, my toxicity level hasn't changed much since 1990 with only caffeine being my indulgence. Nor do I have the legendary Hunter Thompson's code of ethics... but there was a period where I did frequent Greatful Dead concerts and much other misspent youth episodes ...that perhaps a flash back might have caused my next move 9... Nb4?? I swear the bishop on d3 was gone when I lifted the knight and placed it on its square. Blunderprone strikes again. It just looked like such a good move. After the game, Jacob even wondered how he missed that.

I got up and went outside to clear my head. My game had clearly taken a turn for the worse. Outside, the kids mother was having a cigarette. She could see I was not happy. What do you tell the boy's mother? I remarked at how I blundered and cursed myself and ranted a few more times. I went back in and played it out until he clearly had a won position ( mate in two). Later he asked his mother if I was crying. I was too pissed off to cry... I was swearing under my breath...but CRYING? Yeah..inside I was.

My club mates, Mark Kapreilian and Joshua Haunstrap tried to give me some good advice.

"Well, what you have to do is stop losing" says Mark our club president.

I must have had that look about me like I was about to throttle him or something becuase he tried to clarify the statement. " What I mean is that you have to decide not to lose those games with lower rated players and take those risks that you do."

Joshua had a similar take but it was a little more clear. His suggestion was to play more conservative with the lower rated players and take the risks with higher rated ones. Opposite to what I was doing so to speak. " It's better to slip a draw to a lower rated player through conservative play than it is to lose through a risky tactic."

My last two rounds I managed to win and end up with 3 points out of 6 and I lost only 4 rating points altogether. It looked like Mark had a hard time in rounds 4 and 6 taking his own advice.

George Duval aka BlunderProne

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Decoy tactic on overworked queen!

This was the position I reached on move 24 in a game at the club against one of the kids at the club ( EDIT 7/5/2007 Needed to take care of my minor's annonymity). It's white to move and win ( I had white)

I must add that my opponent was only 13... but he was bragging to to his friends ( and my daughter) that he could beat me.

I looked at the position and saw that his queen was overworked ( his king was cramped, his bishop was pinned, his rook on f5 was stuck... lots of "seeds of tactical distruction" ) . The queen was needed to prevent me from doing Rxg6+ followed by Qh8+ and Qg7# The queen was also needed to stop the looming threat of Qg7#.

I played 25.e4! he would have been better off taking my bishop with the rook instead of what happened next. 25...dxe4 26. Rd7! He chose not to take my rook. instead he played 26...Re7 27. Rd8+ Re8 28. Rxe8+ Qxe8 29. Qg7#

Chess Bully at large. A points a point. Huzzah!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Refresher course

As a result of my recent slump... I decided to do an eigth circle of doom with CT-ART. Since I completed the seven circles in May and then STOPPED, my calculation skills seemed to be waning. Starting at ground zero. I hope to reset the bad trend.

The Polgar Brick has been a supplement... but I find it not as fulfilling as the actual interaction of the CT-ART ( or similar) program.

I've been focusing too much on opening preparation this summer with dimminishing returns. As for the quest with Strategy 2.0, I can't seem to find my stride. I've done quite a few problems relating to Pawn structures ( which has the highest number of problems) but since I can't test according to level like CT-ART its hard to get into gear. I may pick up Convetika's end game CD ... later this fall.

The sword's dull, rusty and heavy... need to get back into shape.

Friday, August 11, 2006

...And the Ugly

I found out STEVE LEARNS CHESS posted our double queen blunder game on his site here:

of course ...I was the last to blunder.

When bleary eyes deceieve thee. It was a homer moment ( "D'OH!") not a proud one for a Knight who's finsished the circles of death.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mid Summer Slump

So close... yet so far. Earlier in the month my rating at USCF was 1698 following the Stamford CT Northeast Open. I was 2 points away from 1700 ( a goal I have set for my self this summer) then.. I played more tournaments.

First, I went to a one day event in Marlboro on Sunday July 23rd. Four G55's had me finished with only 1.5 points. My rating dropped only a few points to 1692 ( playing in the open section has its advantages)... then the monthly tally from the club's tournament kicked me... after another non stellar performance ... I dropped to 1687... AND THEN... I played at the COntinental Open over the past weekend.

It was a 6 round event... after losing my first three games I reentered for more abuse and lost a 4th game. I won 2 games and lost the last round becuase of a blunder in teh end game... handing my won position over to the opponent. I dropped 30 more rating points with that performance.

THEN.. Last night I was playing someone 200 points lower rated than me. In a skirmish of tactics versus tactics... he offered his queen to me ... but I didn't see the offer until AFTER I moved my king... which allowed him to take MY Queen. Grant it, I had lost power the previous night and had little sleep ( Sleep apnea) and found out my wife lost her job that day. Sure I can make excuses ... but I still have friggin blind spots. These losses are going to leave scars.

I felt like my brain went on vacation and forgot to tell me. My non stellar perfromance losing 6 out of the last 8 games played seems to stem from various problems. For one thing, I found myself paired against someone I beat at a previous tournament ... my prepared opening was stale and HE had a sharper line prepared for mine! In other instances ... it was BlunderProne Strikes again. Some were lost due to pure miscalculation in a middle game tactic.

I find that after doing the seven circles I needed to revamp my openings because I kept getting tripped up over move orders and not really having a good understanding of them. Then, as I put more effort into the opening calculations slip on my tactics... last night I purely lost my vision skills... argh! Its like I have only so much brain... and if I study one area the other has to leak.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Loss against a 1900 player at the Northeast Open

It was a wild match! I even had a "London" in reverse with a Pillsbury attack... but my move 15 was part of my demise. Advancing the g-pawn when the opponent has the f-pawn advanced is supposed to help open it up. In this game it was the wrong thing to do.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Highest rating yet...1698!

I played 4 of the 5 rounds at the NE Open and finished with a score of 2. I decided to leave during round 5 rather than playing 10 hours of chess prior to a 3 hour ride home.

My last game was with the older brother of the victim of round 3. Round 3 was with a 1730 player who I trounced on with the london. I had Black against his 1916 rated brother who I ended up with an edge for most of the game until I lost the initiative and allowed him a passed pawn which I had to take care of. I will post this game later.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Northeast Open after round 2

So far I have one loss in round 1 against an 1800 player and a win ( as Black) against a 1712 player in round 2.

In round 1 I had a great attack with minor pieces in the center. I mis-calculated an exchange and ...again ... I didn't calculate my opponent's inbetween move ( 4 moves deep). This happened to me at the World Open and I managed to salvage a draw.
In round 2, I played the Caro-Kann against a Panov-Botvinick attack variation and my move 6 was questionable ( according to book.. which is about as far as I can remember in this line). I played a Nc6 which looks normal from a development standpoint... but foretunately, my opponent didn't see the cramping c5 advance. Instead he played b3 which really allowed me to bring my bishop to b4 ( what I should have done on move 6).

Here is a pgn of teh game in round 2:

[Event "Northeast Open 2006"]

[Date "2006.07.15"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Judd, Daniel"]
[Black "Duval, George"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B14"]

{192MB, GEORGEHOME B14: Caro-Kann: Panov-Botvinnik Attack with 5...e6 and 5...
g6 } 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. b3 Bb4 8. Bb2 Qa5 9. Qc2 Ne4 10. Rc1 O-O 11. Be2 Qxa2 12. O-O Bxc3 13. Bxc3 Nxc3 14. Qxc3 Qxe2 15. Rfe1 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 Qa2 17. cxd5 Qxb3 18.dxe6 Bxe6 19. Rb1 Qd5 20.Qxd5 Bxd5 21. Red1 Rfd8 22. Nd4 Rd7 b6 24. Rd3 Rad8 25. Rbd1 Kf8 26. f3 Ke8 27. Re1+ Re7 28. Rxe7+ Kxe7 0-1

I didn't have time to fuss with the "simple" applet viewer. Cut and past into your favorite viewer like:

Friday, July 07, 2006

Showing my "Moxie" at the WO

OK... There are LOTS of stories to tell... the cheaters ( one guy had a radio ear piece), the hissy fits ( plenty of those) and the "Stars" ( Like Nakamura being left behind while all the other over 21 GMs went out and grabbed some beers ...then came back and walked around with them in hand... almost taunting Hikaru)...but mine is more of us common place folks... doing the Philly thing when in Rome.

So after my loss in round four I was licking my wounds. My step son REALLY wanted an infamous Philly steak and cheese from the source. My wife, bless her sole, researched the be-jesus out of it and found "THE" place. Pat's King of Steaks, is in south Philly and several blocks from the hotel but all the locals claim that this is THE place...even better than Geno's who's stand was just a few yards from Pat's.

I decided to stay behind to regroup and prepare for round 5. My adventurous wife took flight with all the city maps in search of the stand with a little less than 2 hours before the next round. I started to get concerned about making the first round on time when over an hour had passed before anyone returned. At about 5 minutes before the round my step son and daughter burst into the room to deliver the goods. My step son had wolfed his down in the car ride back, grabbed his set and made round 5 on time.

My daughter and I, decided to take the hit on time and play by "club time" instead ( 40/90) so we could enjoy the Philly delecasy. I washed the cheese and onions off my beard and made it to round 5 with 20 minutes expired on my clock and a diet Moxie in my hand. For those of you not from the northeast, Moxie is a bitter root beer that typically requires an acquired taste. I acquired mine having grown up in Maine adn only 10 miles from the moxie epicienter of the world where they have Moxie festivals complete with Moxie queens and the young guys trying to look tough chugging the soda.

I shook hands made my 1.d4 hit the clock, sat down and opened my Moxie. Made another move and hit the clock. I was still in book by move 12 and only used 3 minutes on my clock against a 1717 rated player from MI. I hit him with a Pillsbury attack that he never saw coming. Move 22 he resigned. I still had over an hour left on the first time control.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

9 Rounds of intensity followed by 10 rounds of Insanity

The 4th of July in Philly had Lionel Ritchie warming up at the famous "Rocky" steps while the final round of the World open was well uunderway only a few city blocks away. In rounds 8 and 9 I squeaked out an extra point and a half against a couple of 1700 players ( mostly played 1700 players the whole time since I was in the lower 20%). My Final tally was 5 out of 9.

Then the insanity hit. I decided for one last huzzah, to sign up for the late night blitz tournament. It was a double 5 round swiss G5 boiler maker. At 2:45 AM I managed to scrape up only 4 points in the under 2000 section. WHAT WAS I THINKING? But at least I wasn't the only one lacking any sense of reasoning... there was an 84 year old man who kept saying what I was thinking " I'm too old for this!"

My step son finished with 6 points and my daughter... well... she had fun... let's just say she had a lot of swim time at the pool and made some new friends.

We had a great time.... it was good practice for the next world open.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Carterizing the wound

It seems as though when I play black I am tripping up over move orders and losing in the opening. As white I have yet to lose ( except for a Draw) Entering the last 2 rounds with a 3.5 after 7 rounds.

My Step-son, Tyler, has one point better with 4.5 in the U1400 section while my daughter, Nika only has a 1/2 point from a bye she took earlier to day to go to the zoo with my wife.

In the Open, Nakamura is holding first place.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Great Suckage at the WO so Far

The first Three rounds ( friday night and Saturday) left me with a point and a half. First round I had a won position which was up materially and I managed to squander that away with a bad calculation that over looked an inbetween move. After generously giving up my material advantage, I mananage to snatch a draw out of the jaws of victory.

Second round wasn't much better. I had a good game and played probably the next to the top seed in the section...BUT... time trouble came and I dropped a rook rather than simplify... I would have done better to simplify.

Third round I CRUSHED my oponent. The fourth round had me scrambling and catching up while losing pawns left and right. I went into the endgame down a piece. I did hold my ground and got the material back only to lose to an extra pawn... but a point lost is still a point lost.

Fifth round coming and I am trying to get my game back up. 4 down and 5 to go still only 1.5 points.

Man I suck!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My "crap"top

So here I am .. 1 week before the Blunder Meets the World ... and my training laptop decided to STB. Full Dell-hell ... power issue. Fortunately, I am a little handy with these things.. I have parts on order ( system board) and should be here by Monday. I am saving myself a couple hundred instead of having Dell go through it. My hard drive should be ok... all my databases etc.... need to work on a back up. Note to self: Get an external HD to back up the training stuff.

The Polgar brick is my tactics gym for now ... I have a back up system ( minus the data bases) for openings training.... no problem... I still have books... must breath.

Oh ... and I started my Sabbatical tonight... 10 weeks off...Paid! Yeah people hate me ... including my wife.


Off to the World Open in 1 week!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thick as a Brick

Having completed the circles training last month... I still find it helpful to practice problem solving. I am making my way through the Lazlo Polgar 5334 "Brick" So far I have completed the first 648 problems which is barely 1/9th of the way through.... if this was CT-ART... this would be 1/2 way through a complete circle. It just seems like I am gettign nowhere. I have to admit though... I am recognizing quite a few of the mate in two problems from the seven circles of hell.

As far as training for the world open... its practice practice practice. I read through Chess for Zebras ( skimmed it the first time through... some other date I plan to pick apart the games more deeply) and have realized that its all about practice at this point. My brain is full. Since I am "Thick as a Brick" when it comes apply what is full in my head... I have to practice more. I am sparring with Fritz and finding positions where an advantage is had and playing against the computer to get more of an intuitive feel of how to play the position. I really need to learn this aspect of the game since most of my games are lost after I have an advantage.

On ward!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mass Open catharsis

I went through each and every one of the 6 HORRIBLE games played over the Memorial day massacre called the Mass Open. More than using Fritz to spot the bonehead moves... I went through each postion as carefully as possible and added my thought process that went on at the time. This was very revealing and very insightful to why I suck.

The common theme I ran across was that I tend to play "rote" moves... whether I am black or white. A failure in the way I learned my openings. Memorization is a fatal flaw...especially if you can't remember. Instead of playing what the position demands, I make what I was considering a "normal" developing move. The problem being that my "normal" developing move is flawed and based entirely on a blank system called the London system. As white, I play this with a pretty good degree of success but I will get into my flaws in a bit as white. The MAJOR issue as black... I play moves that are more thematic if I had colors reversed.... except I am a tempo behind! It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Now call it laziness... feeble mindedness... or plain stupidity... the first step was seeing the problem ...over and over. This made an impression.

In the games where I played white, in getting an advantage like development, I turned over the intiative rather than exploit the advantage. Bah! I watched in several of my games how I had a developmental lead in the opening and clearly an opportunity to open up the position and exploit the advantage only to make a timid move or offer an opportunity for my opponent to "catch up" and in some cases hand over the initiative.

One other theme I seemed to run into is what I call "chasing ghosts". In my timidness, I would suspend my attack to respond to an opponents seemingly important threat. This ended up handing the game over on several instances. If I would have only realized that having the initiative gave me a better edge and that if my opponent did try to execute a counter threat... I had ample response time to meet it.

There were other sub themes that all stemmed from these concepts. But having them glare at me in the face, watching the train wrecks again... but understanding how and why ... was a bit soothing.

In my training for the next few weeks before the World open... I plan on sparring with fritz on key positions where I tend to play by rote and force myself to play the position. I plan to extract positions from actual games based on my opening repertoires. Also, I plan on finding positions where I have a positional advantage and play against fritz. Practice..Practice...Practice.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Potato Chip defense at the Mass open

MAN! Am I serving up some sloppy chess. The kind you try to put on a bun and it falls all over the place. Eventually you get to sink your teeth in but you hope you have enough filling left to fill your belly.

During round one yeasterday I used what I call the potato chip defense. Because of the odd hours they had the rounds (10:30 and 5 ) I tried to eat well in the morning. By 1PM my stomach was digesting itself and creating disturbances. Luckily I had some time on my clock. The hotel was serving up sandwiches right outside the room. I wolfed down a tuna sandwich and went back in with my bag of chips and diet coke Crinkle Crinkle... CRUNCH munch munch munch ...I sacked a bishop for the position... woops sorry about the crumbs.... CRUNCH munch munch munch... Long story short my oponent was running into time trouble ... and dropped his queen right as he made time control. He "exploded" out of the room. " Can I buy you a coke?" I offered... " I had you .. I can't believe I let it go... " He responded.

Enough with the food stories. 4 rounds down ...2 wins and 2 losses. Wins are against 1660 and 1450 ( 10 year old) player. While the losses are againt an 1820 and a 1650 player ( a 14 year old) . Two more rounds to go.

I am finding myself coming out of the opening fairly strong and I either don't know how to turn it into an advantage or I can't quite figure out how to exploit a weakness with a given position. It seems like whatever I do .. it turns to sloppy joes and I am left scrambling for a draw and losing the initiative ( or the game).

I need to figure this out before the world Open... Bah!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fell off my horse and landed on my sword

Well, I should have checked the ego at the door. After last weeks head swelling draw with the master, I went in this week full speed ahead with "only" an expert. I saw he was a d4 player. Prepared several lines deep with the Slav ( looking intently at the mainline slav, central variation and the geller gambit.) I was ready for him. He played the quiet 4.e3 line which I knew but not as prepared as the others. Besides, its a lot like the London but reverse. I *know* this one ( ego inflating beyond safe limits).

Then I decided to play a cowboy move and rush in for a premature attack... against someone 450 points higher than me.... like I think I know what I am doing. Yeah... you get the picture. I had a good helping of humble pie this week.

For my dad... here's the game ... you all can enjoy watching how the "mighty" can fall off thier horse. I had a good run this month... it was bound to happen. Going to play at teh Mass Open this weekend too. My tail will be between my legs and I'll put the lasso away.

name=blackname value="Duval, George">

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's just a flesh wound ( My DRAW with Curdo)


My fist 1/2 scalp with a life Master AND a Legend! John Curdo and I had an incredible battle despite the 600 rating point spread. By move 11, I was down a bishop and hung on for dear life ( It's just a flesh wound) I kept up the pressure on the g-file and just wouldn't give up. 30 moves later I won back my lost material and gained a pawn! At move 57 we were in a repetitive dance and he accepted the draw! I'm heading to the world open baby!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scalped another Class A

Second time in one month!

PLaying up in the Open section this month has me paired with tough competition. I am the lowest rated player in the section. Last week I had a draw against a 1799 player. That got me paired with an 1887 player this month. I should have lost that game since I pulled one of my "cowboy" movesw ( Unsound tactics) that I vowed I would never do again at the last Eastern Class tournament. But in teh heat of the battle, I chose a risky move for action versus passivity. It left me behind 2 pawns with his king exposed. It could have been worse... but I seemed to grab initiative and hung on... surprisingly I managed to win! Here is an attampt to post my game:

The problem with winning this round... it only gets tougher from next week I am paired with the legendary John master... GULP!


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Done with the Circles... HUZZAH!

It's been almost 2 years since I started this journey. The first year was part time effort as I was finishing my graduate degree. But since last May I was concentrated on getting through all 7 circles for each of the levels of CT-ART and that day has finally come. Today at 8 PM EST. These are my results:

LEV10 LEV 20 LEV 30 LEV 40 LEV 50 LEV 60 LEV 70 LEV 80 LEV 90
89 74 65 58 54 46 45 40 42
90 77 67 59 58 46 47 43 44
90 80 68 59 55 53 51 48 45
90 82 68 59 59 54 56 56 53
93 86 73 69 69 63 63 69 59
97 90 73 73 66 73 73 77 72
95 89 76 79 71 82 82 91 81

( I still can't do tables.)

8805 problems later. As for on going tactical training, I am now on to "the Brick", Polgar's 5K. I've already completed the first 305 mate in one problems. As for my next circles training, I feel a need to improve my positional sense and I have the strategy 2.0 Cd I started to play with. Well I am off to work on pawn positions.

Let's see how my rating does.... Huzzah!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Playin' Up

This month I was faced with playing in the U1700 section or the Open at the club. All day I was debating whether to play up to "train" for the World open by playing a month of tough competition or to play more in the "comfort zone" and attempt fate at the club prize. If I would play in the open, I would be the lowest rated player in the section. If I played the U1700 section, I would be in the top 20%. The entire drive to the club last night had me going back and forth.

"Poof" the little red devil pops up on my left shoulder telling me " U1700 prize. 100 BUCKS .. you can practice BEATING and CRUSHING the competition!" ....then "Poof" on my right shoulder appears the dork with the halo all dressed in white. He was telling me " You need to practice against tough opposition in order to train for the U1800 section at the WO" ( Ok no comments about the voices in my head)

This went on even as I was signing up. Globular (Aka Matt) was the TD taking registrations said ... " So, what'll it be? U1700 or OPen?... Huh? ... HELLO?" I finally succumned to the inner turmoil and exclaimed " I would like the full abuse section of the open please." The little red guy lost to the dork this time. The angles were applauding. ( OK now you can comment on sanity ... definitely stretched due to too much circles training)

First round I was paired with a guy rated 1799 and almost won. I was happy with the draw ( same colored bishops and I had an extra pawn). Phew! I may post the game at a later date now that I (almost) have PGN viewer figured out. Its only going to get tougher from here. BRING 'EM ON !

On the tactical training, I am in the middle of my fourth iteration of the level 90's trying to get my hit rate above 50%! Pluggin away... almost done my 7 circles. What next? Strategy 2.0 ... already started "circling" some exercises.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Scalped an 1800 at a quick event !

Well, here is an attempt to include a game with an embedded aplet. This was last night at the Waltham CC during a G29 tournament.

He was rather upset. Since my Quick rating was 1394 and his was 1810. He slammed his king down and walked off in a huff.

I don't play too many quick tournaments...because ..I am slow! What I did find though, was that after all the tactical training I've done to date, tactical shots were jumping out like a singing sword!

Post edit... I am getting a java applet load error with ChessViewer ... how do this so it works?

Here's the game in pgn:

[Event "WCC G29"]
[Site "Sudbury"]
[Date "2006.04.21"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Duval, George"]
[Black "Soucy, Glen"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "1394"]
[BlackElo "1810"]
[Annotator "Duval,George"]
[PlyCount "29"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. e3 d5 4.
c3 Bf5 5. Bd3 Bg6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Ne5 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 Qb6 9. Nd2 Nbd7 10. Rb1 Be7 11.
O-O O-O 12. Ndf3 Rfe8 13. Ng5 Rf8 14. Nxd7 (14. Ngxf7 Qd8) 14... Qd8 15. Nxf6+

Post edit 4/27/2006: attempted to Fix PGN Viewer per PEndax's suggestions (Thanks)
post post edit... 5/2/2006 I think I finally fixed it... I think.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Question to the Knights: Any one hear of the Bangiev's Squares strategy?

I've come across a couple references made to the Bangiev's Squares strategy pertaining to a couple of training CDs from the IM Bangiev based on color complexes to help refine the search for candidate moves. Apparently, its a complete thinking process. Has anyone out there actually (a) heard of this or (b) even tried this?

A sort of review can be seen here:

Monday, April 17, 2006

14 penalties and Still I get 46 points!

Man, the 90's are tough. Actually, to be realistic, its the 90 "and greater" level. So far I am still trudging through the first iteration and I am seeing only about 20% that are actually a score of 90. The rest are 100, 110, 120, 130 and 140 mainly with multiple variations and sub-lines. I am pulling a modest 42 % hit rate with the first run.

I am starting to see the "themes" but realize how its a complex of "nested" motifs. This one is going to take me a while. With the nice weather, fishing season... it will take a lot of effort to keep me on track.

( am I done yet?)


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Made it through the 80's ( without big hair)

So I am up to a total of 8336 tactical problems completed in my quest on CT-ART 3.0. i've just finished my 7 concentric mazes with the level 80 problems with the following results.

level 80

I am finding with the last couple of levels, I tend to do the 6th and 7th iteration back to back and that seems to give me favorable results. For instance, the 6th time around on level's 60-80 took me about 2 hours while the seventh only took an hour ( or less). Grant it, these levels had less than 100 problems and level 80 was no doubt the shortest with only 44. I suspect hitting a 91 percentile on the seventh round shows I was able to retain more in my small short term memory.... oh well. I am heading to the 90's. I just may very well have the circles done by May!

Monday, March 27, 2006

I am *SO* done with the 70's

I just finshed my 7 concentric mazes of the level 70's. Interesting that I scored almost identical to what I did when I tackled the level 60's. Here are the scores:

level 70

You can scroll down to the "60's" post to compare if you want.

Time to put away the bell-bottoms and turn up the punk rock and the big hair metal bands. I'm heading for the eigthies!

Off to the 44 problems of the 80's times lucky seven!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

That swindle At the Eastern Class

Here is that "swindle" I had back at the eastern Class Championship for those interested.

Duval,G ( Blunder Prone) - Kolb,D [A48]Eastern Class Championship 2006(4), 05.03.2006[Duval,George]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 d6 5.Bd3 Nh5 6.Nbd2 Nxf4 7.exf4 Nd7 8.c3 0-0 9.f5 c5 10.fxg6 hxg6 11.Qb3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Qb6 13.Qxb6 Nxb6 14.0-0 Bd7 15.Rfe1 Rfe8 16.Rac1 Nd5 17.Be4 Bc6 18.a3 Kf8 19.Nf1 Rac8 20.Ne3 Nxe3 21.Bxc6 Rxc6 22.Rxc6 Nxg2 23.Rxe7 bxc6 24.Rxe8+ Kxe8 25.Kxg2 Ke7 26.b3 Ke6 27.Ng5+ Kf6 28.f4 Bh6 29.h4 Bxg5 30.fxg5+ Kf5 31.Kf3 a5 32.b4 axb4 33.axb4 d5 34.Kg3 Ke4 35.Kg4 Kxd4 36.Kf4 Kc3 37.Ke5 d4 38.Kf6 d3 39.Kxf7 d2 40.Kxg6 d1Q 41.Kh6 Qd6+ 42.g6 Qxb4 43.h5 Qf4+ 44.Kh7 Qf5 45.Kh6 ....

45...Kd4 46.g7 Qg4 47.g8Q 1/2-1/2

Never resign! Make them earn the point! Arrrrrrrr!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

...And then I let it slip through my hands!

Thus the name Blunder Prone! Tonight I had yet another "won" game in my clutches coming out of the opening ahead on the exchange ( in this case a Rook for a Knight) yet i managed to let it slip through my hands.

1) I tried to follow the rule of thumb that once I win material I should regroup my pieces and defend any threats. This only handed the initiative back to my opponent. He had so much play left that I had to be careful of him gaining material back and almost mating me!

and then....

2) I saw an opportunity to simplify and exchanged down. But a miscalculation left me with 2 disconnected rooks and a bishop versus an active queen and a Knight ( with 2 minutes left on the clock). I thought I had the knight too but ... oh well.

and matters made worse....

3) I tried to save an advanced central pawn ( which was blocked). This only led me to keep the rooks disconnected and pieces out of harmony. Yeah... I dropped a rook. The adventures of Blunder Prone strikes again. Yay varily.

Grrrr. I do this too often. Like the last tournament I went to. I come out of the opening strong and even some middle games ahead... only to chase some ficticious demon or stupid "rule" and not playing "real" chess. This does get frustrating....when will I learn?

Almost done with the circles.... must finish circles.... circles...nice circles ... I see them now...hmmm dizzy now.

synapses misfiring .... neural network error

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I made it through the 60's ...Woah Man... Cool!

For those of you wondering if I am having any sort of a flashback, I'm afraid the only flashback here is those of seeing level 60 problems etched into my thick skull. I finished the 7th tour of level 60 CT-ART 3.0 problems tonight ( hit rate) :

level 60

I did the last three concentric mazes over the weekend and found myself pushing the envelope to see if I could do it faster each time. I think it helped to have them complete back to back... it did well for my short term memory issues... rather, my overall MEMORY issues.

Well, time to put the bell-bottoms and the lava lamp on and head for the 7 concentric mazes of the level 70's!


Sunday, March 05, 2006

I got to use the "sword"

Alright, I went to the Eastern Class Chanpionship this weekend and had less than stellar results. I was playing at the bottom of the class B section and really didn't expect a whole lot in the first place. I did manage to scalp someone who was 130 higher and I managed to swindle a drawfrom another 100 plus rated player. Other than that ... I lost. Two of those losses were because I was attempting "cowboy" moves ( Improperly calculated tactical shots) when I "should have" played more conservative and positional.

This brings me to my epiphany I had this weekend. The games I typically play tend to be positional battles. One guy was telling me that I should try to play tactical open games to make use of the "training" ( and he was ready to sell me 100 bucks worth of books to me) but after some consultation with others, I realized that I AM A POSITIONAL PLAYER. I *found* my "style" this weekend.

The games I played had me coming out of the opening rather well and even had some play in the middlegame that actually was making sense. I even played into an Isolated Queen Pawn position and actually remembered what to do! I turned development advantages into material pawn advantages and figured how to block in my oponent's Bishops off. Where I went wrong was when I would get ahead of myself and think I see a tactical shot. Both times I did this, I calculated into uncertainty. Had I had my brain with me, the red flag would have gone off and told me not to play it... maybe losing a few rating points will help me do less "cowboying"

So, overall, I will continue the tactical training as prescribed... because I will still have those tactical possibilities eventually in some of my "positional" games. But for now, I will beef up the stategy and positional training. Plus, I want to play sharper lines of the openings I play. End games will also be thrown into my mix.

I'll keep you all posted.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Concentric Maze (Circles de la modified) Update

To recap on my method:
  1. CT-ART 3.0
  2. Start on level 10
  3. Do it 7 times
  4. Next level ... 7 X
  5. Does it hurt yet?

So, in theory, my circles consist of 63 concentric mazes which will still total the same amount of problems as prescribed by Michael De La Maza. Tonight, I made it through Maze 38 ( 3rd round of level 60). This brings my total problems to a count of 7279. I did two extra mazes on levels 10-20 plus a few odd ones in various levels at the beginning for those of you doing the pure math ( Like Hmmm... 7 x(110+286+221+204+134) +3x 84 only equals 6937... who am I kidding?).

I still suck ... I find at the higher levels the first couple tours I score about the same percentage.

A look at my sucky "hit rate":

Circle 10s 20s 30s 40s 50s 60s

1 89 74 65 58 54 46
2 90 77 67 59 58 46
3 90 80 68 59 55 53
4 90 82 68 59 59
5 93 86 73 69 69
6 97 90 73 73 66
7 95 89 76 79 71

8 94 92

( I haven't figured out a clean way to do tables on this Blog so sorry for the craptacular format)

These are pathetic...probably because for a while I was not using proper "thinking" and trying to calculate or recognize the pattern. Rather, becuase of burn out and trying to go as fast as possible I would "guess".... trying to correct that these days.

Oh well, I'm Off to the Eastern Class Championship this weekend! I'm done with tactics for tonight off to review my openings and attempt to finish Andy Solitis' new book on How to Choose a Chess Move I found at our local library ( good positional book ... very "wordy" ...I like that... I am dense).


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brain... missing in action

Well, I went to the club with my tactical sword sharpened but forgot to refresh my opening reply as Black against 1.e4. I suffer from CRS ( Can't remember ...stuff) and I need to constantly refresh my openings. I think it was my mispent youth or the oxygen starvation back in the carefree days of the 70's ;)

Maybe I am just dense. I play the caro-kann... because I used to play the french but never liked my Q-bishop locked in. So now, I use the C-K with a vengeance and get the damn Bishop out before I lock in tehpawn chains. Mainline I am Ok... Advanced variation... I had to take a couple knocks from another club member to remember to advance c5 early less trouble sets in. Tonight was no different, I did remember the early c5 ... but I managed to be behind in development the entire opening and well into the middle game. I could see tactical shots only a tempo or two away but my opponent had the initiative almost the entire game.

I suck... I never got to use my sword :(

Studying openings has always been a pain for me. I am a visual guy. I tried bookup but can't seem to get the hang of it. I wish I could find a better method of understanding the concepts behind them ( I have the "easy" series of books ... I have to keep re-reading them because it doesn't stay in my thick head) I am open to ideas.

Back to tactics and on to the Eastern Class Championship this weekend.

I took the test... Steinitz?

Chess Bully Posted by Picasa

You're Wilhelm Steinitz! The first official World

Chess Champion, your logical approach to play

was a timely corrective to the romantic yet

unsound style relying on brilliancies and

explosive sacrifices. Instead you advocated

steady, correct play exploiting tiny

positional advantages and refraining from

flashy, questionable attacks.

Which Chess World Champion Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, February 27, 2006

My journey Thus Far... A concentric Maze

I'd be done by now...if it weren't for ... life. My wife thinks I am ready for the men to come get me with the "I-Love-Me" jacket. She watches me every night do diligence to the CT-ART 3.0 problem set and once a week testing the waters at the local club. My seven kids refer to me as "the frowning one in the corner" as I stair my laptop and point in mid air trying to calculate the forced variations. Oh.. and then there is work... so 155 days was not my goal. Rather, I set a goal to first improve my tactical vision.

When I first read Rabid chess by MDLM.... I thought to myself " Finally, the holy grail!" It spoke to me... a mere patzer, a has-been, wanting to improve past my dogmatic learnings from my childhood. Finally, I had found a short cut to blast me into an improved and more "respectable" rating.

I rushed to the convekta website, downloaded the trial version.... begged for a copy from my wife at Christmas ( 2003) and hit the ground running… sort of. It didn't take me long during the first circle that after I ran through level 10-30 problems I was merely guessing and not attempting to calculating. I was also at the point where I was running to the club or local weekend tournament thinking I was now a tactical genius. I was looking for tactics in all the wrong places and sacrificing with a vengeance. My rating dropped to the lowest its been ( around 1350) in my entire career ( once upon a time I peaked 1600's but that was before they recorded these in the archive prior to 1992). I realized this swash buckling approach to chess was not necessarily what I was supposed to do. After I lost material thinking I had a true combination, I lost intitiative and then the game.

It was about that time that I found Jeremy Silman's counter balanced approached for patzers like me seeking improvement. I tried to apply that as well. The imbalances seemed to be a better approach to my game than the previous swash buckling but I still was missing basic tactical motifs.

That was when I realized that doing tactics until my eyes bled may be a good way to ramp up the ability but first I needed to get the basics down. I modified the circles. I decided to do concentric ones meaning, I would do the first level 7 times before moving to the next.

I felt I needed to be consistent in my training in order for this to work but I also realized I had a life. I committed to doing at least 10 problems a day during the week days and on the weekends I would do at least 30. I maintained that for the first few months and exceeded the quotient several times. By the end of June I racked up over 3000 problems ( all 10-30 level).

I started to track my rating versus number of problems completed. The Charts below try to correlate the "growth". I am now hovering around 1600 after completing 7th circle of level 50 problems.

I have to point out that from Mayof 2004 until May of 2005 I was also completing a master's degree program in engineering at the local tech institute... because I had way too much time on my hands ( 7 kids, job, wanting to play chess, a wife.... etc) So my circles were actually attempted between semesters, mid terms and a thesis. Ok, now you see why my wife was ready to committ me. So the rating dip seen in June of 2005 was really a bottoming out of all the life stuff. Since graduating, my tactical regimine has been more deliberate and I've more than doubled the number of problems solved prior as well as gained some 240 points! Well, some have argued that I gained only 80 given the "dip" seemed deliberate :

Although tactics are 90% of my troubles, on the way to tactics are the rest. Positional analysis is a weakness I am attempting to improve using Silman’s concepts, and Convekta’s Strategy 2.0 CD. I am desperate to finish the 7th circle of 90s and anticipate completing by June of 2006. So I’m a little slow and long winded.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Modified De La Maza

OK, With much interest, I have read a great many posts by the order of the Knights Errant. I too am a wannabe 400 in 400 MDLM. I have to report that I ended up modifying the 7 circles. Instead of running through all 9 levels, I am doing each level 7 times before I move on to the next.

I did this because I realized I am tactically deficient... and needed to see 1-3 move tactics before guessing at the higher levels. I am also taking a slower pace to the quest. I "officially" began the circles in June of 2005. I am now on my second circle of level 60 problems and scoring horribly.

My rating since June however has modestly improved a couple hundred rating points as seen here:

My question to the Knights, can I become an honorary member given I have a modified circle?