Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, Hello

Goodbye 2007, hello 2008!

I'm declaring a holiday; I'm going to play some blitz tonight on FICS! Hopefully I'll catch some people who've been drinking and really increase the old rating. Ha!

Anyway, in lieu of a formal Progress Report Week 7 and all that blah, blah, I'll just say that I finally get to play serious chess starting Jan. 10 in the Reno CC Class B Ch. and I'm so excited I feel like a kid again, waiting for the last week of school to be over and summer vacation to begin. Yeah!

I did do some Chess Tempo this week and that's good, but I have realized that my recent study program has been valuable but a little too confining. I don't have the percentages for the whole week with me right now, but the rating dropped from 1801 to 1764--horrors! Actually, since the point for me was to stay sharp for tournament play I'm not going to freak out about it, I think it's done its job.

While I'll keep up the Chess Tempo in the new year, I'm switching over to more time working with my new ChessDB program and reviewing and analyzing my own games and brushing up on my openings, but only by playing through complete master games in those openings trying to "guess the move," for both sides. This is an interesting idea that I saw when working with Secrets of a Grandpatzer--instead of taking the winning side and "being Tal" or whoever, guess the move for both sides as soon as you're out of your opening "book", taking no more than 15-20 minutes per game. I'll give it a try soon with the DB.

The good news for you, Dear Reader, is that I plan to make this blog somewhat less about "me, me, me" in 2008, and more about other's chess lives and topics of wider interest; I'll still inflict all my tournament games, and some study progress reports, upon you from time to time.



Friday, December 28, 2007

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Chessloser says it as only he can:

My Relationship With Chess

Makes me want to give up my job, chuck the whole middle-class life, move to the Left Bank of the Seine and play chess all day with mysterious women.

I'm inspired, and now you can look forward, sometime, to something more interesting here than my Chess Tempo training.

Life is more than tactical problems and ratings, boys and girls.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Secrets of a Grandpatzer, Part 4

(Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)

As we continue this series on Dr. Kenneth Mark Colby's rare book Secrets of a Grandpatzer I thought that for a change I'd give an example of his play, a game I especially enjoy because the final position is so aesthetically pleasing:

Now that's what they mean when they talk about piece coordination!

And here's the whole game (or fragment--White may have staggered on for a few moves) with the author's notes. If you want to play the King's Indian, always be alert to the Nxe4 shot when the White King is stuck in the center. It occurs in a lot of different variations:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Progress Report, Week 6

(Here was Week 5, Grade B)

Like many of you, Dear Readers, the Christmas holidays and associated travel, shopping and other indignities interfered with training this week; all that aside, I did have a good Christmas and managed to improve a little more at Chess Tempo, + 40 -12 and rating now 1801 (1738). At 76.9 percent I'm creeping toward the percentage I should be hitting. I can only aspire to the heights reached by fellow Reno Chess Club member Soapstone (E. Hong) who is now in the top ten at the site in Standard rating at 2101, 82.85 percent for over 2000 attempts.

Also got in two 15 5 games at FICS (where I'm RLP)and won both against 1700-1800 rated opposition to bump my Standard rating up from 1690 to 1745. And once again, no blitz was involved in the making of this motion picture. Again, I was amazed at how much better I played at 15 5 than at 3 0 or even 2 5. No blitz is paying off.

Did some very brief reading in odd moments in the Gallagher book on Tal, but no board work, so a little, partial credit there.

And now, a word about my next big project; I have downloaded ChessDB to my new computer and will (apparently) be able to extract games from the FICS files, so I can present them here. An even more exciting prospect is inputting a database of all the games (700+, I think) that I have in a big cardboard box in my closet, representing my whole career of tournament play 1981 to the present. In the pile I have a few wins over Experts, a bunch of instructive and amusing (for you, Dear Reader) losses and plenty of stories to go with the games. Blog fodder for years to come! (YIKES).

Oh yeah, for this week's study program, I'll give myself another grade of B.

A Fair Question

Drunknknite was kind enough to follow the link in my last post back to my Feb. 2006 thoughts on The Greatest. He asks:

In your greatest post where is Botvinnik??

For some reason he is overlooked, even though he is the one who propelled technique and the form of scientific analysis we apply to this game to the forefront of theory. He was also 'dominant' from 1946 until 1957 (probably even later than this). In spite of the fact that Bronstein and Smyslov were right on his heels, he still showed his superiority to the great masters of his time.

As great a player as Botvinnik was, I must respectfully disagree with part of this comment. If I were to have included a list of the "Top Ten" chess players of all time, M. Botvinnik would probably have merited a place on it; but in the particular categories of my rather idiosyncratic list I couldn't justify including him. He truly was dominant in the 1948 World Championship Tournament, but then didn't play any public chess for three years, and his record in the World Ch. matches he played in 1951-63 was basically 50-50. If you will refer to his tournament and match record here you'll see that he played fairly sparingly as World Champion, had a number of very good results and a few mediocre ones in strong tournaments, but never had the kind of almost unbeatable of 4-7 years that was noted in my original post for Alekhine, Tal, Fischer et al.

It certainly hurt Botvinnik that four or five of what might have been his dominant years were 1941-45 when the Soviet Union was locked in a death struggle with Germany and international chess life was disrupted. If he had gotten a chance to play in a World Championship match and a few strong international events during those years his reputation as a great player might be even greater.

For these reasons, Botvinnik didn't make any of the lists in my original post but I'm happy to agree with drunknknite that he deserves recognition as one of the all-time greats.

Friday, December 21, 2007


An interregnum is a period of discontinuity, an interruption which incorporates an ineluctable emphasis on a relationship to what comes before and to what comes after in a sequence. This contrasts with a near synonym like "gap" which may be random, encompassing neither connotation of interjacency, sequence, continuity, etc. nor formal inter-relation.

Umm, actually I am just going on vacation and may not post until the middle of next week...but I really like the word "interregnum" a lot.

Here's something from the back of the vault to substitute, until then, for actual original thought :

From back in February 2006, my opinions on The Greatest.

See you soon!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Secrets of a Grandpatzer" (Part 3)

(After straying seriously from the chess focus of this blog, though in a very enjoyable way, we now resume our regularly scheduled programming)

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Preface: For those readers new to this series, Dr. Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D. (Dr. G), was a Professor of Psychiatry and a leading researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence until his passing in 2001 at the age of 81. In 1979 he published Secrets of a Grandpatzer: How to Beat Most People and Computers at Chess. Though I present some highlights here, I want to clarify that I don't necessarily endorse all of his advice, especially the part about memorizing openings (see Part 2). Since this is a book that few readers will have a chance to look at, however, I do my best to present excerpts of his material without too much editorializing of my own.

Part III of the book is headed "How to Play," and covers Thinking, Nerves, Pressures, Clocks and Conduct in mostly brief chapters. Some nuggets for your consideration:


Depth of analysis counts for little among patzers and grandpatzers. It is accuracy of calculation which counts. Unless the moves are forced there is no point in looking deeper than 6-8 ply (half moves) because there are too many possibilities for flaws in the analysis.

In many positions there is no best move, and a modest one suffices, especially if it restrains or frustrates your opponent's intentions.

The lack of sustained will-power and the making of "what-the-hell" moves is another reason one does not become a master.


Speaking of being nervous and being drunk, I have found it useful to be slightly swacked at the start of a game...I know this is heresy...but I advise a few drinks before a serious game. This is hard to do when the game begins in the morning but afternoon and evening games are ideal for this opportunity.

Computers do not evaluate people from their appearances an neither should you. It is a very dangerous thing to do for reasons I will now spell out. The greatest psychological danger for the aspiring grandpatzer lies in playing the ego-game.

Nobody wants to be a nobody. It is precarious to use chess as a way to defeat a sense of nobodiness.

Some booked-up teenagers are the best examples of contempt-in-action...The way to get an edge on them is to increase their conceit and disdain for you by acting as bumbling as possible.


To be a master one needs good physical and mental stamina. But health, mental or physical, is not necessary for the grandpatzer.If you look at a group of us in a chess club tournament, you will observe what wrecks we are...Having problems is not the problem; it's what you do in spite of them that counts. To rise above physical illness and pain, to strive for your best in spite of these distressful states, represents a challenge for the aspiring grandpatzer with artistic goals.

Tenacity and resourcefulness are the marks of the grandpatzer. He hangs in there for a long time knowing there exists a great variety of hidden possibilities in every position.


Once during a tournament, an old guy fell over backwards in his chair. As I was trying to get his pulse (he was dead), a true chessplayer rushed up to the board shouting "Stop his clock, stop his clock!" (Article 14.6). The ending to this funny-not-so-funny story is that a few years later this same chessplayer died of a coronary during a tournament game.


There is more to chess than moving the pieces.

Chess is play, a game having its own reality. We can obliterate one everyday reality, not by dimming awareness, but by intensity of concentration in another.

I hope your artistic goal in studying the teachings and preachings of this book is to improve your play in an enjoyable way.


(In Part 4 we'll look at Dr. G's advice on playing Young Guys, Old Guys, Women and Masters, plus How to Beat Computers, 1979 version, by an expert in the field).

More Non-Chess Material, or, the Beauty of Individualism

Derek Slater comments on the Potpurri post:

I think it's great that you included the non-chess-related link on individualism. That'll help those blend-in-at-all-costs conformists like chessloser, dk-transformation and liquid egg. (heh.)

Since individualism is my greatest passion (besides chess) I present a link to one of my favorite individualist writers, Ilana Mercer.

She provides the photos below; totally non-chess related, but individualist enough for me to post!

and from a different angle...

Rated PG


One "F-word" used to get an R rating for the whole movie, but apparently times have changed.

(h/t James Stripes over at Patriots and Peoples. He also blogs Chess Skills.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Progress Report, Week 5

Here was last week (Grade: C-)

Some better work this week, despite the ubiquitous holiday distractions and time-stealers that I'm sure most of you are also experiencing! Promising and delivering these reports has had a good effect on my study habits, since I'm aware that my Vast Readership will be watching. Also, Liquid Egg Product threatens to sic Singaporean cops with canes on me if I break the no blitz promise...yeah, that's motivation.

So let's start with the good news: No Blitz this week! Played two 15 0 games on FICS with a 1627, won both in pretty good style, standard rating there now 1690 (1631). Did I mention no blitz?

Over at Chess Tempo (rpearson) I went +57 -19 for exactly 75 percent, not as high a percentage as I need to get to, but a decent improvement over last week. Also, I spotted at least two "duals" that I got docked for, when my solution led to the same position, but no big deal. Chess Tempo rating (standard) 1738 (1673); decent progress there.

I even got into the Joe Gallagher book on Tal that I mentioned back at the beginning of this program, even if only for a few minutes, so that's a tiny bit of progress, too. Here's a funny position from the introduction that I thought you'd enjoy, from the game Tal-Petrosian, USSR Team Ch. 1974:

One might reasonably ask how an all-time great like Petrosian ended up in this position after 18 moves; looks more like Morphy-NN, offhand game, London 1858 does it not? Tigran, didn't they teach you back at the Pioneer's Palace in Tblisi to develop the queenside?

Ha, anyway Tal finished the game efficiently with 19. Neg5+! hxg5 20. Nxg5+ Kg8 21. Qf4 Nd7 22. Rxd7! Bxd7 23. Bxf7+ 1-0.

Now wasn't that easy?

I'm giving myself a B for the week on sticking to the program--next week, Chess Tempo percentage must rise significantly!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Potpurri of Good Stuff

For the last week or so a great number of thoughts, links and references have been running through my mind, and so here, in no particular order, are the ones I can remember and/or wrote down or bookmarked during the fallow period (The rest, which I've forgotten or perhaps remembered during a period when I wasn't near a computer and then have forgotten again, will have to be noted later):

Eric Shoemaker, fellow Reno Chess Club member and blogger, deleted his other blogs and intends to consolidate his chess blogging at Shoemaker's Hidden Study...; excerpts from a comment he left here:

I have begun a very ambitious project...

I am going through all of my chess books, one by one and my favorite "stuff" is making it to the blog, so as to create a very lengthy "study session." Naturally, there will be tactics, endgames, games, game extracts, personal successes, etc and much less talk about myself.

Sounds very interesting, and yes, Eric, I will try to assist you on the technical side.

Another Reno player, Soapstone, gives some autobiography in My Chess Career. Capablanca used that title, too; hope the parallels continue, Ernie!

Somewhere in the last week I bookmarked a link to a 2006 post by Kathy Sierra, "How to be an expert;" there is mention of chess grandmastership, but more importantly, the article could inspire anyone in any field, especially the "mature" person (like me). Oh wait, credit goes to J'adoube via BDK's Confessions (comments) for the link.

How can it be possible that I'm the last person in the chess blogosphere to link Reassembler (aka Derek Slater)? One of the best writers and commenters around, on much more than chess. Sometimes I am so lame...

A cool blog that has nothing to do with chess, but everything to do with my other favorite subject, individualism--The Bidinotto Blog:

If somebody spikes the drinking water of Republican primary voters with a hallucinogenic drug, and Huckabee wins, I'd have to seriously weigh the unthinkable: voting for a Democrat. Hell, I might vote for Obama over Huckabee -- then go out and get drunk. And stay that way for four years.

LMAO! And now back to chess...

Ashu Ailani, one of the people who was near the incident described in my A for Asshat post added a comment (scroll down) but I'm still a little confused.

Polly of Castling Queen Side has a lot more fashion sense than most chess players.

The excellent Michael Goeller at The Kenilworthian had a superb post on Chess Amateurism that stimulated thoughtful discussion, including the observation that chess professionals need amateurs, but the reverse is not necessarily true! As I noted previously, if GM chess is a "different game" then:

Why should the rest of us waste our time looking at the games, buying these guys' books or supporting Superduper-GM chess in any way, when we could be spending it on our tactics exercises and studying our own games? I'm just sayin', that's where the "different game" logic leads.

There is so much free material and instruction available on the Web these days that chess "professionals" are going to have to really add value if they want to get paid for it. Just my opinion.

Streatham & Brixton CC's blog has a continuing series of posts by "Geoff Scorebook, English Grandmaster." Just, frickin,' hilarious. Genius! Here's the latest.

The latest serial post from dk at Chess Improvement is a work of art. Visually and every other way.

Glenn Wilson of Houston has an excellent blog that I have missed linking previously. My bad!

Wormwood on How Deep Do You Look? is worth more than a look. Read the whole thing. I will point you to my comment on this post by BDK:

A lot of good points in comments here but I don't know if anyone has really penetrated to what I feel is the heart of the quote; from my own experience I can say that for many, many years I always tried to do something in most every position, always going forward if possible, attacking something, threatening something, always trying to be "forceful," in a word.

Well, this is often called for, but lately I've had some pretty good success with just "being" (as J. Rowson calls it), waiting for the opponent's mistake before doing something forceful to take advantage of it. I just try to play a healthy opening, not a sharp one, and build up my position while limiting the other person's options and opportunities. This isn't "negative" chess, and I'm no Petrosian, but it does cut down on mistakes from my side.

Now, does anyone have a comment on my comment? I'd love a little debate on the approach outlined here v. "attacking chess."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Alive

Haven't posted anything for almost a week, and right now it's only 9:30 local time and I'm ready to fall asleep; sheeeeesh, that's ridiculous.

Anyway, I have done some pretty good training this week, and no blitz. I'll make some time tomorrow to do an actual post with all the pent-up material.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Progress Report, Week 4

(Compare Week 3)

Most of my chess activity this week consisted of Chess Tempo (where I'm rpearson if you're interested): +98 -47, 1673 (1652)--NOT good enough! 67.6 %, while my competition at the Reno Chess Club like Soapstone is hitting 79 % with rating around 2000. That's where I need to be.

I did get in a couple of 15 minute games on FICS with a good fighting draw against a 1670 and an unfortunate loss against an 1856 (I was a pawn up). Standard Rating there now 1631 (1645). I also played 9 blitz games (majority 2 5) and dropped most of them--the difference in quality between blitz and the 15 0 or 15 5 games is simply enormous. Blitz isn't doing me any good in improvement and even that small number was basically a waste of time, though I sometimes use the excuse that I only have "a few minutes," but sorry sucker, you should be doing Chess Tempo problems in that time! Okay, at least there was a lot less blitz than last week; if I was a smoker I could say that I went from a pack a day to half a pack, I suppose.

I'm a little bummed that I probably won't be playing any OTB at the Reno Chess Club until January, in the Class B Ch.--so I better get back to strictly tactical study and longer games.

Overall grade for Week 4 considering real life and all that rot: C-.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"Secrets of a Grandpatzer" (Part 2)

(Part 1 here)

As I noted in Part 1, this book was written by Kenneth Mark Colby, a Professor of Psychiatry who also worked in the field of artificial intelligence (interesting paper on artificial belief systems here). He also had a great sense of humor and really enjoyed life and chess, if the book is any indication.

Having previously covered the Introduction, let's get to the meat:

After floundering around as a 1600 patzer for 3-4 years, I decided to do something about it. In those doings, I developed, and utilized the herein described heuristics to raise my USCF rating to 1800+ in a year of weekly rating tournaments...Being of generous disposition, I am now passing these secrets on to you so you too can become a grandpatzer. Why should I reveal these secrets? Because now that I have become a grandpatzer, I don't need them anymore. (I need new ones.)

Colby thinks studying master games annotated by masters is (mostly) a waste of time. To briefly sum up, his road to grandpatzership emphasizes pattern recognition, specializing in and memorizing a few openings (yes, memorizing. More on that shortly) and tactics training. The part where he diverges from most other books and authorities is in his opening advice. I described it briefly back in my first post on opening study, but let's let the man speak for himself:

The major area where an aspiring grandpatzer can profit from master practice is in the opening, regardless of what masters say about memorizing. Play only opening systems which current masters repeatedly use because they are constantly being improved for you through tournament play...By studying these systems and your pet critical variations of them, you simply memorize, as far as you can, what the best current continuations are...

A lot different from most advice we "class" players get! Colby recommends the King's Indian and Sicilian Dragon (though my earlier post did point out some possible problems with his approach). His point is to get a middlegame you are familiar with and, perhaps just as critical, preserve clock time and mental energy for playing said middlegame. As long as you're within your "book" you just put out your memorized moves.

I do think that whatever objections one may come up with, this is very practical advice; the more I play tournament chess the more I believe that avoiding time trouble and maintaining focus through proper periods of concentration and relaxation is a vital part of good results. For example, at the Reno Chess Club we play a lot of 30/90, G/60 time controls; getting to move 10 in couple of minutes on the clock allows almost 90 minutes for 20 middlegame moves. Could be helpful...

Colby's other great emphasis in his "How to Study" section of the book is tactical exercises--"Hence I will recommend study of this aspect of the game above all others." He seems to have done the equivalent of de la Maza's "Seven Circles" with Fred Reinfeld's 1001 Brilliant Sacrifices and Combinations. At least there's one thing everybody agrees on; study tactics, tactics and more tactics.

Finally for this part, some more sage advice:

The great problem with all study is TIME. You have a job, family, friends, dogs, plants, other pastimes. You are lucky if you can study 3-4 hours a week. The trick is to concentrate and use TIME efficiently...I spend much of my TIME trying to overcome this (combinational weakness) by studying diagrams in which a winning combination lurks. I study current variations in my pet openings as they occur in the literature. I now study only those endings that my own games lead to. Everyone has to find a way to distribute study-time. Playing time is distributed for you.

(In Part 3 we'll look at Dr. G's advice on "How to Play")

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Progress Report, Week 3

Concentrated on Chess Tempo this week--+56 -25, 1652 (1563), better than last week but still not nearly what I'm capable of--with no time limits I should be getting a lot higher percentage, like 90+. I'm really going to concentrate hard, ignore distractions and take whatever time is necessary.

Played one 15 5 game at FICS and had a very good and interesting game with someone rated 1767, which I eventually lost, so my standard rating is now 1645P (1677P).

And...okay, okay, I did play some blitz over at FICS, maybe 20 games and got my rating back over 1300, which does wonders for my ego (heh).

I know, my Plan said No blitz. In italics.

I can quit the crack cocaine of chess anytime.

Yeah, sure, we'll see next week...

Monday, December 03, 2007

"Secrets of a Grandpatzer" (Part 1)

Secrets of a Grandpatzer is a very interesting book that was published back in 1979, interesting both for the subject matter and for the author, Kenneth Mark Colby, a Professor of both Psychiatry and Computer Science at UCLA. Dr. Colby had a lot of valuable things to say about chess and chess players, and since the book is now out of print and very difficult to find (only one copy at $35.00 on Amazon) I thought it would be of value to readers to share some of his thoughts, since I'm fortunate enough to own the book. Even though he passed away in 2001 at age 81 the book is still under copyright and I don't want to steal someone's intellectual property, but I believe it's fair use to describe the contents and quote a few passages.

The sharp-eyed may notice that over on the sidebar there's an (excellent) blog named Secrets of Grandpatzer Chess, but curiously, when I commented on one of the posts there asking if that was from the book, Grandpatzer replied "wahrheit: no, I had to google in order to find the book you were referring to. I was playing off the title of one of Nunn's recent books, although Soltis' "Grandmaster Secrets: Endings" was also floating around in my head." I just wanted to clarify that for the record.

Enough of the prelims--to the book! The subtitle is "How to beat most people and computers at chess," and the author's stated aim is to raise the "duffer, fish, woodpusher or rabbit Class E, D, C or weak B" to the exalted status of "grandpatzer" (1700-2200). The "beating computers" part needs some historical context; at the time there was, of course, no Fritz or Rybka and Dr. Colby is talking about the Chess Challenger and others (here is a nice page with examples) which played in the 1200-1600 range on their higher settings. Interestingly, he believed one way to get better at chess was to emulate the computer ("the greatest grandpatzer of them all").

Here is a quote from the first page that should touch any discerning reader:

Why should a patzer seek to become a grandpatzer? Because of the aristos (Greek: Aristos = best). Life is more than ham sandwiches and beer. Humans strive, not just to survive, but to enhance the quality, the excellence, of survival. Striving for excellence in any endeavor, developing yourself to become your best at what you do, is rewarding and fulfilling to aspirations higher than happiness. Merely happy people, without artistic goals, vegetate in incomplete, hobbled and impoverished lives...A grandpatzer is a strong chessplayer, a threat to anyone (including himself) in a given game.

And one more indicative quote from the Introduction:

As Dr. G will show you, becoming a grandpatzer involves understanding the ego-game in addition to knowing lots of patterns, themes and tricks.

There are a great many other valuable and enjoyable quotes and tips in this book, and I'll share some of them with you in future posts.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Amaya-Pearson 11.29.07 0-1

I was grateful to be back in serious tournament action last night at the Reno Chess Club and defeated Mauricio Amaya (1223) with the Black pieces in a Scandinavian Defense--curiously, I've had Black in five of my last six games--three of four in the Western States Open and both the rounds I actually played in the November Swiss.

As I noted here, I'm not studying openings directly (only through complete master games) at all these days, and the interesting thing is that I seem to be doing fine--he played somewhat passively in this game, and after the unfortunate loss of a piece by White on move 12 it was certainly nice to be Black. As pointed out by Norm Wyatt right after the game there were some slightly faster wins, including 24. .Ne2+ which immediately wins the house; I wasn't crying too hard over it though, having seen a simple way to terminate the game. I'm a little sorry I didn't play that move however, it was really decisive and more artistic. See this recent post by Blue Devil Knight for a lot of commentary on a similar position, and issue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Links and Sidebar Stuff (New and Good!)

My friend Eric Shoemaker is consolidating his stuff on Pale Rider so his deleted blogs are gone. has been Chess Videos TV for awhile; and I need to get over there more often!

Added Chess Tempo to "Chess Improvement."

New and good!---gorckat's Chess Adventures. Rich Dailey's (n8ux) Pawned (formerly Out of the Ether, still great video links)! Big Five Chess. Chess Tyro. Self-Flagellation to the Goddess Caissa (great title!).

That's all we have time for right now, kids--though I know there are some that I noted in my travels and haven't included (it always happens) so please, please if you blog about chess and visit here and I haven't noted your efforts, leave a comment.

A Fine Rant (+Progress Report Week 2)

(WARNING: Probable strong language and scenes of ultraviolence)

The Weekly Report--as far as chess is concerned the week sucked.

I rarely get very personal here, usually writing about chess topics and my chess games and studies. All that has been strongly affected by personal crap lately; since the burglary at my home there have been all kinds of distractions, most of which are taken care of now, all of which have taken away from any kind of consistent concentration and study. So...

Week 2 of The Plan, a grand total of about 2 hours snatched at random intervals for chess study, got in my planned 1 hour of Excelling at Chess Calculation (14 positions), 1 hour of Chess Tempo mostly under poor playing conditions, and I sucked, +28 -20, Standard rating dropped from 1648 to 1563. Instead of my goal of 95 percent that's a whopping 58.3 percent. Several times I played the first 2-3 moves correctly and then won a queen instead of mating or something like that, but they all count.

I'm finally back to playing some serious chess this week at the Reno Chess Club--I've missed almost half the frickin' meetings over the last three months due to visiting family members, sick family members, trips, etc. I had to miss the first two rounds of the Western States Open due to some work bullshit and sick family members. I had previously agreed to take off the December Swiss--I feel like I've taken two months off already.

Hmm, despite all of this I've finally raised my rating from the floor of 1600 up to 1650 and I feel pretty good about my game and prospects for further improvement. Maybe this is just one of those phases when things are tough and the tough get going. It damn well better be, because I've basically given up all of my outside activities besides chess in the last few years; I don't hunt, fish, watch football, play golf, go out and drink with the boys, lounge in the hammock, target shoot, watch movies or much else. If I don't have some hours by myself every week thinking about chess and doing what I want to do (on the board) then I'm just a damn puppet on a string, and I might as well go join the French Fuckin' Foreign Legion, where I understand you at least get some leave time each year.

There, I feel much better now. Regular blogging will resume after these important messages.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And Then There Were Six

Yet another Reno Chess Club blogger! Chessboozer (aka John Clifford) makes the scene with Chess Karma, and his second post is already a LOL--10 Ways to Make Chess More Popular, including:

Bring Back the Cold War, Chess Hooliganism and...Cheerleaders!

Well, I don't know if chess has ever had cheerleaders but if not, then bring 'em on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Progress Report--Week 1

(See The Plan for the outline of the weekly schedule. In brief...)

Most 5-hour weekly blocks to consist of:

1 hour FICS, 2 game@15/5 weekly.

1 hour Aagard's Excelling at Chess Calculation, working through each chapter solving the examples from diagrams, then when text completed, the 100 exercises, maximum 10 minutes per exercise then if not solved review answer, until all 100 can be solved on sight (this may extend beyond this current 60-day Plan).

1 hour Chess Tactics Server for solving under clock pressure, but striving for 90 percent accuracy, not rating. Session stats to be recorded and reported here.

1 hour Chess Tempo, non-timed (standard), striving for 95 percent.

1 hour games from The Magic of Mikhail Tal, 2 games a week at 30 min. per, to use real board, find creative and strong tactics, and have fun! Note positions where I don't find Tal's move and put some of them up here for reinforcement and your enjoyment.

Normally I'm from the School of No Excuses, but what with the disappearance of my computer some modification of the schedule was required this week. So, unadorned, here are the chess study activities and grades for Nov. 13-20.

Online play (FICS)--Obtained a new computer Sunday and downloaded new client, spent time setting up, 2 games at 3 3 to test it (violation of no blitz!), +1 -1, FICS blitz rating up to 1272 (1265). No 15/5 games. Time n/a. Grade: D (excused).

Excelling at Chess Calculation (book)--Due to no computer, spent additional time with book. Time 1:45. Positions 33 (practiced finding best continuation, following from diagrams through some long variations; valuable). Grade: A.

Chess Tactics Server: Time 0.0. Grade: F.

Chess Tempo:
Time 45 min. Correct 21, Incorrect 11. 65.6 percent. Rating 1648 (1716P). Grade: D.

Tal Book: Time 0.0. Grade: F.

Total study time this week: +-3.0 hours. Grade: D- (excused to D).

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Chess Carnival

Thanks to Jack Le Moine, the November Carnival is up at Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums. I submitted chessloser and Me, but don't click that--get over to the Carnival and enjoy all of the varied work.

Stupid Criminals and Chess Sets

While I was away at work yesterday my house was robbed, window broken, the usual stuff stolen (mostly electronic devices, including stuff so old and cheap that they'll probably get $5 for it. Unfortunately, my computer was among the missing and so posts are liable to be hit and miss for a few days).

The most interesting thing about the whole sorry affair was the saga of my chess bag (yes, it's all about chess). Some items were dropped in the garage, as if the perps had been startled and left in a hurry (though at this point no one in the area is known to have seen anything. Curious). Anyhoo, there in the garage was my bag, unzipped, with clock and six White pieces lying around nearby. In my bedroom ("tossed" to look for hidden valuables) my game scores were in a compact pile, with other pieces lying around. When we finished tidying everything up, I had a complete set of pieces, clock and score sheets, and even the cashews I keep in the bag for energy during games. Great news.

I figure they looked in the chess bag, opened the compartments to see if anything valuable was hidden, and took it to stuff other items into. Or something. It didn't make much sense, but I'm happy it's all there.

Of course it's a bummer to have your place burglarized, but the good thing is that no one was home and no one was hurt. Well, that's what you're supposed to say. I rather wish that I'd been home alone when they broke that window and snuck in like the little shithead low-brow loser cowards that their kind always are.

I'd really liked to have made their acquaintance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Plan

And now, after games and benchmarks and this and that, it's time to get my Study Plan for the next 60 days out in public and be accountable to myself and friends (one of the best ways to reach a goal is to make it public). Thanks, dk my blogging friend, for the gentle and consistent encouragement!

Unlike the rapidly rising drunknknite I don't have 15-20 hours a week for study (I'm guessing he's single and childless...) but in my life I carve out 5-6 hours a week for chess studies, plus a serious tournament game at 30/90, G/60 most Thursdays.

As I noted below, it's calculation of variations that I mainly need to improve, and for this 60-day cycle I'm going to be studying almost exclusively calculation and tactics, with practice games at a 15/5 time control. My tournament schedule has me off for December, so probably only 4 or 5 rated games before the next report. I should be able however, during the time off, to study for slightly more time each week. So, until January 14, 2008:

No blitz.

No openings.

Two one-hour endgame refreshers during the month of December on basics like king and pawn, rook and pawn v. rook, queen v. pawn.

Most 5-hour weekly blocks to consist of:

1 hour FICS, 2 game@15/5 weekly.

1 hour Aagard's Excelling at Chess Calculation, working through each chapter solving the examples from diagrams, then when text completed, the 100 exercises, maximum 10 minutes per exercise then if not solved review answer, until all 100 can be solved on sight (this may extend beyond this current 60-day Plan).

1 hour Chess Tactics Server for solving under clock pressure, but striving for 90 percent accuracy, not rating. Session stats to be recorded and reported here.

1 hour Chess Tempo, non-timed (standard), striving for 95 percent.

1 hour games from The Magic of Mikhail Tal, 2 games a week at 30 min. per, to use real board, find creative and strong tactics, and have fun! Note positions where I don't find Tal's move and put some of them up here for reinforcement and your enjoyment.

If I find additional time during a week I'll try some 0 4 at FICS for fun.

Reports to be posted here each Tuesday on results, progress and adherence to the Plan.

Tactical beast, tactical beast, tactical beast...

Garingo-Pearson 11.08.07 1-0 (Redux)

If you look to the post immediately below you'll see my game from last week, and read about the problems with getting annotations to work on Chess Publisher 2. When I pasted my pgn into the blog at (as recommended by Blue Devil Knight) it worked perfectly--see here. (On the other hand I see BDK just posted a Chess Publisher game on his blog).

So my question to readers; if you're interested in seeing one of my games do you prefer to have it directly in front of you or do you mind clicking a link? I must say that the viewer is in color, larger and easier to read. It sure seems easier to work with. But there's something to be said for having the game right here on the blog.

I would really appreciate your feedback!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Garingo-Pearson 11.08.07 1-0

Here's the game I talked about below--a great chance to beat a near-master rated player. Going over the game intensively really taught me a lot. Chess Publisher was giving me some problems with the notes, despite well over an hour of tinkering, so they're separate from the game. Sorry about that.

Before reading them, check out the position after 22. Bxf7 and see what you come up with...

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bc4 Bg4 5. f3 Bf5 { The Master games I searched out that reached this position all went Bc8. I thought 4. Be2 was "book" and I'm on my own from here. } 6. Nc3 c6 { This gambit is familiar from other Scandinavian variations, and it seemed like a good choice against a much higher-rated player. } 7. dxc6 Nxc6 8. d3 e5 { Black has some compensation for the pawn in central control and development, plus White's weakened kingside. } 9. Be3 Bb4 10. a3 Ba5 { A computer might like Bxc3, but trading pieces just to weaken pawns didn't seem worth it, giving him two bishops and strengthening his control of d4. } 11. g4 { !? The kind of move I'm hoping for. Ne2, holding the g4 push in reserve, seems better. } Bg6 12. Ne2 h5 { ?! On 13. g5, I planned Nd4 14. Nxd4 Qxd4, but looking in the cold light of day I think after 15. 0-0 black doesn't have much to show for his pawn. Instead... } 13. Ng3 { ? Allows Black to open lines and complicate, just what he was looking for. } hxg4 14. fxg4 Nd5 15. Bd2 { Bxd4 was safer. } Nf4 16. Bxf4 exf4 17. Qe2+ Kf8 { Now I expected 18. Nf5 Bxf5 19. gxf5 Nd4 and Black may even be a little better. I was stunned by... } 18. O-O { ?? Wow. I don't see a realistic attack on f7 that's worth a piece, and taking the knight seems automatic, but I think my move is even better } Bb6+ 19. Kg2 { In the postmortem with several strong players Qh4 was suggested, but there didn't seem to be a killer follow up. Now I think my next couple of moves are fine--whether "the best", I frankly can't analyze to a definite conclusion. } fxg3 20. hxg3 Nd4 21. Qe5 { ? After Qd2 White has insufficient compensation for the piece but Black would have to play accurately to win. Instead, this move should lose quickly. } Nxc2 { Now if, for example, 22. Nd5 Bd4 and Black wins more material. So... } 22. Bxf7 Bxf7 { ? I didn't think his Bxf7 worked and played this recapture quickly--but Ne3+ wins! If 23. Kf2 or g1 then Nxg4 wins the queen, and if Kf3 Bxf7, so 23. Qxe3 Bxe3 24. Bxg6+ Kg8 might be best, but Black has a winning material advantage. Now things are more complicated... } 23. Rxf7+ Kxf7 24. Rf1+ { ! Not for the move but for the idea beginning with 22. Bxf7. I had just missed that despite my current huge material edge, my queen would have to go. And most important, from now until the end Black played as if dazed, making seemingly forced moves and going down the path of least resistance. I still had 13 min. for 7 moves, but I needed to shake it off and play better than ever. Instead... } Qf6 25. Rxf6+ gxf6 26. Qd5+ Kg6 27. Qe4+ Kf7 28. Qxb7+ Kg6 { Now I thought the game would continue 29. Qe4 Kf7 30. Qb7 with a draw. But... } 29. Ne2 Rae8 { ?? Be3! preventing the check on f4 would probably force the perpetual. I had 8 minutes for the last two moves and had to figure this was a critical time; but I saw Rae8 stopped queen checks and thought I was safe--there was no real quality analysis here, like I was dazed from all the previous calculation. So I lose... } 30. Nf4+ Kg5 { ?? Truly sad--Kh6 loses to Qf7, but this move turns a once interesting game into an embarrassment for me. } 31. Qg7# 1-0

Friday, November 09, 2007

Quick Report from the Crime Scene

I lost last night's game to Nathaniel Garingo (2173) at the Reno CC November Swiss.

My friends, the bald facts do not fully detail the agony and the ecstasy...make that the ecstasy and the agony of it. Playing a guy rated 500 points higher (and with Black) I had him on the ropes, barely breathing, all those cliches, after 20 moves, but I couldn't find the moves to finish him off (and in the postmortem with several strong players it was amazing how difficult it was to find a decisive finish, if one existed; Black may have been only "much better"). So I overlooked something and he played an impressive counterattack and by move 31 it was over, I was mated.

I did all the right mental tricks as discussed here, had a good attitude and concentrated well for awhile, but I'll admit I was a little emotional after the game, frankly I was pissed off that I'd outplayed the guy to reach such a position and let him off the hook like this, the point is playing well for 20 moves means nothing in chess, it's just another loss, I could comfort myself by saying I played so many cool, awesome moves but that's a load of crap. I've got to become a finisher, a player who is as good or better at the end of the game, when it counts, as at the beginning.

Anyway, the great thing about this game is that it really laid bare my serious and deadly weakness, which is pure calculation-type positions. I'm playing good openings, good positional understanding, open lines weak squares blah blah etc. but that's not going to get me anywhere against the upper ranks. My study program has been made simple--I'm not spending a second in the immediate future on openings, chess psychology or any other miscellaneous, extraneous crap. I'm going to dedicate all my study time to becoming a tactical beast.

Nathan showed up my weakness and I've got to strive to get sharper tactically or I'm liable to blow a lot more "great positions" against the stronger players, and I've decided that is just to painful to allow to happen.

I'll post the game in a day or two when I have some time to really understand it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ze Plan Boss, Ze Plan or, C-SCAMP (Part I)

dk-transformation has made his public.

Soapstone has Training Progress Status Reports.

And now, by popular demand...

Robert Pearson's Chess Status Check and Master Plan (C-SCAMP)!

dk has items on his spreadsheet going up to Jan. 1, 2012; my time frame is more modest, as I plan to present a "where I'm at now" status check and then goals for the next 60 days.

Current Standings:

1. USCF (1650) (Goal for this year was 1700, I'll probably only have three more rated games by Jan. 1 so we will see; but better than still at 1600 floor!).

2. Red Hot Pawn (1743) (as "Newvictorian" - Online correspondence site; 1743 is my highest ever rating and pretty respectable, but I'm winding down my games here as I believe the time spent could be better used on other training exercises. What would really be useful is to analyze and present some of the games here).

3. Chess Tactics Server ("RobertNV" 1499, 73.1%, 1475 tries) (I enjoy using this very much, and I think it's good practice but I try to do everything quick for rating points, and I am adding chesstempo, where one can do problems at "standard" with no timing, or "blitz" like at CTS. I think both can be useful training, and I'll still be visiting CTS and attempting to raise my rating and, especially, percentage correct, in the coming period).

4. Free Internet Chess Server - FICS ("RLP" I can't access my stats from this computer, but (corrected - thanks dk) 1265 blitz, 1243 lightning (0 4), 1677 standard. I have wasted too much of my chess time playing blitz here, usually squeezing it in late at night [often the only time available] and recently blowing 70 rating points in about 90 minutes. I don't think I'm getting anything out of these games except opening practice, so no more 3 0, etc. I'm intrigued by 0 4 and dk's achievements in that field, so I might indulge occasionally. In future, however, mainly at least 15 5 time controls against best players available for serious practice games).

Well, I've already burned all my blogging time for now and must go prepare for a real live old-fashioned face-to-face game of chess at the Reno Chess Club tonight. Details of next 60-day study plan to follow.

Surprise, Surprise

(For full story and annotations see this post at Eternity Road. Don't click on the link to her blog if you're offended by high heels).

Fetiche recently worked up enough courage -- all right, yes, your Curmudgeon helped chivvy her -- to go to a chess club in Santa Monica for a few face-to-face games.

"I walked in not knowing what to expect, but everyone was very nice. I was the only woman in the room; I got the feeling they weren't accustomed to female company. After a couple of minutes, a nice older man asked if I'd like to play. I said yes.

"'Are you good?" he asked as we set up the pieces.

"'I've only been playing for a year, but I love the game,' I said.

"He smiled. 'Well, let's see if I can amuse you a little,' he said."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another Reno Chess Club Blogger!

Kevin Gafni, an up-and-coming player with a pleasing style, has entered the chess blogging universe with drunknknite. That makes five of our Reno Chess Club members who are blogging; I don't know what the leading chess blogging club in the U.S. or the World might be, but whoever it is watch out because we will catch and pass you!

Kevin has played several riveting games that I've seen parts of (while strolling between moves from my board) and I look forward to seeing some of his efforts on the blog.

How Good (or Lame) is the New USCF Site?

Over at BCC, a post about Jack Le Moine's experiences at the recent USCF Executive Board meeting produces an extended run of comments about how bad the USCF's new website sucks. I noticed the other day that when I tried to link to USCF player pages it didn't work, and now I know why.

Luckily, "Dan" provides a link to the old pages at Hope it lasts, because I loved to link to my and my opponent's tournament records when talking about a game or event, and they managed to screw that feature up by putting it all inside a "wrapper." Otherwise, I don't have anything against the new page, but it doesn't really seem like an improvement, either, so why make the change?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Chess Publisher Version 2

I've noticed this in use at a couple of my favorite blogs now, including dk's Chess Improvement and Liquid Egg Product, and finally got around to working with it.

It looks like a nice upgrade from v. 1 that I used previously, but anyway both are available here. Having the annotations in the same window is a step forward. In order to test it out I put in a game that I'd had trouble getting to work with the older version, and found out that the tricky part is that Blogger removes "unnecessary" spaces, which fouls up the cut-and-paste.

Anyway, let's take it for a test drive...

(Later--well that didn't work out so well, diagram too wide for the column and you cannot edit the post after it's published--a blank screen shows in the editing box. Hmmm. Okay, I'll try changing the height and width in the image!)

(Even Later--no I had to change the dimensions of the main column and sidebar--please tell me in the comments if anything looks wrong to funny, or if the new viewer seems good, bad or indifferent to you)

Friday, November 02, 2007


Having subjected you, the reader, to all kinds of reportage on the 2007 Western States Open held in beautiful Reno, NV October 12-14, let me sum up and move on.

I had my best results in five years (since the 2002 Alaska State Championship) in terms of tournament performance (1800) and general quality of play. After a blunder in the first game, I managed to play three consecutive games against players rated above me and score of 2.5 with (as far as I can tell) no major blunders (I could certainly use any constructive criticism you might care to offer: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4). This represented a definite step forward, and I'm attributing it partly to work on my game, but also I'd like to give some credit to my study of Jonathan Rowson's book Chess for Zebras and its inscrutable Eastern Mysticism...well, not exactly that, but I believe that some of the concepts and ideas I read there in the weeks before the tournament really helped with mental preparation and attitude.

Specifically: "Style? I have no style" (Karpov), I'm just playing good moves as I see them. I used to believe there was usually a "best" move in the position, and sometimes there is, like a mate-in-one, but I normally see that; I now am on board with the concept that chess is just too hard to worry about perfection, so I'm happily imperfect.

I've gotten better at just playing the position in front of me and pretty much forgetting what has gone before; errors earlier in the game don't sap my confidence as much. Another interesting note is that I used to think about winning many times during a game, but the beautiful paradox of chess is that thinking about winning less leads to more wins. Just try to play decent moves and let their resignation come almost as a surprise! Also, be surprised when they play a bad move--I'm getting better at looking for the opponent's good moves rather than the ones that allow me to realize my plans.

Finally, I've always been a player who tried to do something "constructive" with every move, going forward, attacking something, gaining space etc etc. I think I'm getting a little better at knowing when defensive, consolidating, prophylactic, "little," even "nothing" moves are called for. "Holding" the position, "tacking" and so forth have their place--but that doesn't mean I won't go for the throat when called for, either.

I'm not trying to overdo it here, as I well realize I have plenty of flaws and weak spots as a chess player, and one good tournament doesn't make me a psychological chess guru or anything close to that! I'm going to have losses and disappointments in the future, no doubt.

Yet, I feel like I'm going to be enjoying chess more than ever, and that's really the point of it all.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Western States Open, Game 4 (Rd. 6)

A draw with a 1753-rated guy from Texas finished up a very good tournament for me.

[Event "Western States Open (B)"]
[Site "Reno, NV"]
[Date "2007.10.14"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Anderson, Bradley "]
[Black "Pearson, Robert"]
[Result "*"]
[WhiteElo "1753"]
[BlackElo "1607"]
[ECO "A48"]
[Annotator "RLP"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 { Aiming for the King's Indian } 3. Nc3 { I haven't seen this move for a long time; now 3. ... d6 4. e4 and I'm playing the Pirc, which I'm all right with, but given the opportunity why not d5? } d5 4. Bf4 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 { Okay, we're in the "Barry Attack" but I didn't remember the name at the time. There was a guy who played this against me in a couple of Alaska tournaments so I wasn't really shocked by it. } Bg4 { In Beating the Anti-King's Indians Joe Gallagher recommends c5, breaking up White's center with a temporary pawn sacrifice. But I'm out of "book" now and Bg4 seemed very natural--it's been played by masters many times in this position. } 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Bxf3 c6 9. h4 { Okay, NOW I get it. Well, a King's Indian player can't be too afraid of this move, I've seen this before...keep the kingside closed and you'll be fine. } h5 10. Qe2 Nbd7 11. O-O-O Qa5 { ?! With the idea of b5, b4 and Qxa2, keeping him busy on the queenside. All my other pieces are where I want them in anticipation of his g4 push. But more precise was b5, keeping the queen flexible. } 12. g4 hxg4 13. Bxg4 Nxg4 14. Qxg4 Nf6 15. Qg2 { I don't think Qg5 is anything special for him either; my plan is still to play Nh5 and push the b-pawn, with a roughly level game. } Nh5 16. Be5 b5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Ne2 { ?! Daring me to take the pawn! After 10 minutes thought I couldn't see a clear refuatation of it, but decided to "play it safe." however, 18. ... Qxa2 19. c3 Rab8 20. Ng3 Nxg3 21. Qxg3 b4 seems good for Black. I don't know why that should be beyond my horizon, but anyway... } Qc7 19. f4 e6 20. Rdg1 Rh8 { I don't know if any individual move of mine in this game deserves a (! ) but I think I did have a good plan to meet his unusual and aggressive set-up. } 21. Qg5 Kf8 { To free the queen from guarding e7, but a5 was more conducive to trying for an advanatage. } 22. Ng3 Qe7 { Rc8 winding up for c5 would again have been more assertive. } 23. Qg4 Nxg3 24. Rxg3 Rh5 25. Rgh3 { He offered a draw. I spent a few minutes looking at c5 as a winning attempt, but thought any edge I'd get was pretty small. Objectively, it's worth playing on for Black, though. Kg7 and Rah8 ties him to the weak h-pawn, then Black can probe the queenside. To be honest, I was a little worn from the events of the previous few days, I was satisfied with my play in the game so far and a draw with a player 150 points above me would complete a very good result; so... } 1/2-1/2

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Instructive Mistake

My Red Hot Pawn rating is now at 1741, the highest I've achieved--but let's give Luck it's due in the equation...

I'm playing Black in the diagram, and to make it a little more of a visualization exercise we'll give a few moves:

25. Be4 Bb3 26. Rb1 and now Black to play and win.

(Don't look in the comments before you get the answer!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reno Rapidplay 10.24.07 1.5/4

At the Reno Chess Club Quickplay Championship (G/29) last Thursday I scored +1 -2 =1 but in general had a blast playing at a fast time control--a couple of very interesting positions came up that I'll share with you after I get my last round game from the Western States Open posted. I see that my Quick Rating dropped from 1531 to 1504, which for some reason doesn't bother me too much. My regular "tournament" rating is what I'm focused on at this point.

Ernie Hong (Soapstone) has a game of his posted from the event, with his usual excellent annotations. I note that in the round prior I had Ernie (2009) in big trouble; I was a piece ahead and he played Bxh2+, when taking it would have led to an even bigger advantage for me, but I saw a "phantom" combination for him, played Kh1 and as it turned out that turned into a killing attack for him. Well, that's life in G/29, or The Fast Lane.

(NOTE: I see that the link to my rating just goes to the "find player page." Just type in 12374580 if you're interested in my checkered ratings history.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


(UPDATE 10/25/07--How could I forget Reno Chess Club bloggers A King's Quest and Soapstone's Studio? Sorry, guys. Also, some linkage to Douglas L. Stewart, a Mississippi Expert who's been kind enough to comment on my games.)

It's been too long since I updated the links on this site--lots of good blogs out there that need to be added, a few that changed or disappeared, so I've added:

Rook Van Winkle, Scholastic Chess Gateway, Steve Learns Chess, Getting to 2000, Liquid Egg Product, Out of the Ether, Samurai Chess, Chess, Goddess and Everything, Castling Queenside, Jack Le Moine, and ChessUSA.

In order not to let the list get too long I've deleted a few blogs that had disappeared or hadn't posted in a long time. Hungarian Knight, where are you?

I'm adding a small non-chess section of things that readers might find of interest, as well:

Mythology, What Jeff Killed, Motivator (Create Poster), and Robert A. Heinlein Bio.

If you have a chess blog, or a blog that sometimes gets into chess and you're not listed, please post a comment and I'll add you to the ranks.

Homer Nods (V) NOT

"Even the worthy Homer sometimes nods."

--Horace, Ars Poetica

Interesting story--as I've written elsewhere, "Me, me, me is Dull, dull, dull," so I was going to get away from MY games, MY tournaments, etc. for a bit, with a Homer Nods post (the fifth in our series of great chess players playing chess very, very badly...).

The June 18, 2007 Chessville Weekly had this "Position of the Week":

White to move and win

We join Chandler-Hebden (both 2500+ GMs) at the 2000 British Championship. Chandler plays 40. Rxh7+ and according to the "solution at the bottom of the page":

1/2 - 1/2 Draw???? Why not 40...Kxh7 41.Rh4+ Qh6 42.f6+ Nd3 43.Qg7 mate? Ask Chandler...

Well, Chandler wasn't around and I was about to use this for "Homer Nods" when I began to get suspicious; originally I thought that perhaps Chandler had 2 seconds on the clock, didn't keep score and didn't know he'd made the time control, or some such explanation. But...Grandmasters of the stature of Murray Chandler would normally be able to execute this mate even in two seconds. I thought a little research was in order,'s a report on the "Game of the Day" by IM Andrew Martin (scroll towards bottom) ending with these words:

40. Rxh7+!! It's a forced mate now: 40...Kxh7 41.Rh4+ Qh6 42.f6+ Nd3 43.Qg7# 1-0

And so, Homer didn't nod! By the way, does Rxh7+ really deserve !! in your opinion? It certainly jumped out at me when I saw the position. It was the steady build-up the previous 20 moves that made the game of the day.

Anyway, glad I did my homework and didn't piss off Murray Chandler!

(Later--I also wonder how the Chessville writer got it so wrong; I'm guessing it's in a database somewhere as 1/2-1/2. The game isn't at out there have it in their ChessBase or whatnot?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Western States Open, Game 3 (Rd. 5)

Another win, in one of the oddest openings I've ever played against. For the second game in a row I don't make any really bad moves--in computer evaluation terms, maybe a few second- or third-best moves that drop me from +1.50 to +0.75 or something like that, but no +1.0 to -2.0 types. Hmm, maybe 33. Bxh8?! dropped from +8 to +4 or something like that. Anyway, it's encouraging to figure that against B-players you just need to avoid the really bad stuff, try your best on every move and you'll usually get some opportunities somewhere along the way. Less so against A and Expert but we'll try to build from here...

[Event "Western States Open (B)"]
[Site "Reno, NV"]
[Date "2007.10.14"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Pearson, Robert"]
[Black "Oca Homer, Nicolas"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1607"]
[BlackElo "1681"]
[ECO "A40"]
[Annotator "RLP"]

1. d4 h6 2. e4 a6 3. Nc3 e6 4. a3 d6 5. Nf3 Qd7 6. Bd3 f6 7. Be3 Qf7 8. Qe2 c6 9. e5 { So far I haven't commented on his unusual opening because...I don't know what to say! I'm sure White has a big edge but where to attack? 0-0 and a queenside advance is probably a fine idea, but I thought capturing on e5 here would be terrible for him, and if he closes the center I have a plan. } f5 10. h4 d5 11. h5 Be7 12. g4 Bd8 { This fits right in with the rest of his moves so far... } 13. Nh4 { 13. gxf5 exf5 with a bind is better. Why relieve his congested position, even if it's the "good" bishop being exchanged? } Bxh4 14. Rxh4 Ne7 15. gxf5 exf5 16. O-O-O Be6 17. Rg1 Nd7 18. Qf3 { ?! White is gradually frittering away his advantage. This move was supposed to be followed up by Rf4, if I recall, but that doesn't lead anywhere. I found it hard to get a handle on the position around here. } O-O-O 19. Qe2 g5 { ? Better Kb8. Opening lines helps me more than him. } 20. hxg6 Nxg6 21. Rxh6 Rxh6 22. Bxh6 Rh8 23. Bd2 c5 { ? opening more lines for ME. But I didn't calculate the line 24. Bxa6 cxd5 25. Nb5 Kb8 26. Bxb7! and White has a winning attack. Instead... } 24. dxc5 { ?! } Nxc5 25. Qe3 Nxd3+ 26. cxd3 Kb8 27. Kb1 { ?! 27. Qb6 is right but this was supposed to be 'prophylactic.' At least it doesn't spoil the position. } f4 28. Qb6 Qf5 29. Ka1 Nxe5 { He spent 26 minutes here, and during that time I calculated a lot myself and concluded that taking the pawn was bad. So naturally I was happy to see this, but maybe it's not as bad as I thought. } 30. Qd6+ Ka8 31. Nxd5 Bf7 { ? The real stinker. He had to play Bxd5. } 32. Bc3 { ! Killing. } Nf3 { I suppose Bxd5 is "better" in some sense, but pretty horrible. } 33. Bxh8 { ?! More accurate is Nc7+. Now Qxd5 would leave White up a lot of material anyway, but the check should have been played! However... } Nxg1 { ? } 34. Qd8+ { and mates. Black resigned. } 1-0

If I May Respectfully Disagree...

The Kenilworthian has some thoughts on the October Chess Life:

I would like to take a moment to compliment the editors of Chess Life for producing one of the best issues I have seen (not to mention the sexiest-ever chess magazine cover photo!) and for putting all of this excellent content online for the entire chess community to enjoy. Bravo!

Well, I will say that Chess Life is pretty good these days--much better than a few years ago. However, Chris Bird's piece on the U.S. Women's Championship starts out with a paragraph in need of serious editorial attention:

Standing in the playing room was a young lady with rosy, shining cheeks, a glowing smile and a joyful look on her face. It was a refreshing sight given that over the previous five days, her look had been more determined: very serious with the fate of the world seemingly resting on her shoulders. Her head was usually buried in a book when she wasn’t playing chess, staying out of the limelight and just generally minding her own business.


As for the "the sexiest-ever chess magazine cover photo(!)," I find Ms. Krush to be an attractive young woman in a semi- sexy pose; however, her white-knuckled death grip on the King brings some rather unpleasant "Freudian" thoughts to my mind.

You be the judge.

Monday, October 22, 2007

chessloser and Me

As I noted a week ago in my first report on the Western States Open:

I got to spend some supremely enjoyable time with chessloser and his lovely and talented wife, which was a much finer experience than the chess playing itself.

Indeed. Let me just expand a little on that; tournament chess players are a dynamic, interesting, self-selected and sometimes prickly bunch. In the cauldron of intense intellectual competition all of the player's flaws and strengths are revealed, and always there's a special kind of camaraderie between those who step up, throw their hat in the ring and put their ego on the line in the glaring light of public chess play.

Now into this arena steps chessloser (he only uses CAPS on select occasions). He and his wife are indeed dynamic, in the original sense of the word; they do things, have been to many places and gotten involved in shaping the world in the kind of ways most of us only read about. And now, after years of intensity, on the front lines of the action in a World-historical sense, they are entering a new phase of life, one that includes for him an entry into tournament chess as an adult. A difficult thing, but having observed him and his wife firsthand I wouldn't be surprised at all to see chessloser move rapidly up the ratings chart--seldom does one find such a combination of self-discipline, humor and energy in one person.

In the big picture chess is a small, but enjoyable and significant part of life; outside of chess, I'll tell you wholeheartedly that chessloser and his wife would be the first people I would hope were around if the shit hit the fan, the rubber met the road, if things got serious. If they'd have my back, I'd have theirs.

My personal endorsements don't come any stronger.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I Hope This is a Trend

Another Reno Chess Club member starts chess blogging! Expert Ernest Hong, Reno Club Secretary and webmaster, joins the conversation as "Soapstone" at Soapstone's Studio. Apparently his Western States Open experience was good enough to keep him playing chess, which is excellent news.

Welcome aboard, Soapstone!

Western States Open, Game 2 (Rd. 4)

I'm pretty proud of this game; after pre-tournament stresses and strains and a loss on Saturday morning I should have been tired, but instead I felt...resolved. My concentration during the game was quite good, and for the last 12-14 moves I was just glued to the board, not seeing or hearing much else that was going on. Not a brilliant game, but important to me; it made me remember that I really do know how to play good chess...

[Event "Western States Open (B)"]
[Site "Reno, NV"]
[Date "2007.10.13"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Barrett, Gordon"]
[Black "Pearson, Robert"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1700"]
[BlackElo "1607"]
[ECO "A00"]
[Annotator "RLP"]

1. g4 d5 2. Bg2 e5 3. h3 Be6 { Admittedly, I'm out of "book" on Move 3. I wanted to keep flexibility with my c-pawn and knight locations, so this seemed good. } 4. c4 c6 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. d3 { I don't really know exactly what White's up to in the Grob--I'm just playing sensible moves for my side. Qa4 looks a bit more dynamic for White here. } Bb4 8. Bd2 Nge7 9. Nf3 Ng6 10. a3 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Nf4 { ?! Now I think Qe7 was better, covering b7 and e5 (indirectly) and leaving more options open. } 12. Bxf4 exf4 13. Qa4 Qf6 { This attack was the idea, but it doesn't amount to much } 14. Rc1 O-O 15. O-O a6 16. Qc2 Rac8 17. Qd2 g5 { ?! Not horrible, but it's rushing things--looking at things with fresh eyes now, Black could play on the queenside with b5, Na5 with a slight edge. } 18. e3 fxe3 19. fxe3 Qe7 20. e4 h6 21. Nh2 { ? I didn't think this was good during the game, and it looks even worse now. exd4 gives White a nice mobile pawn duo and open lines for his pieces. } dxe4 22. Bxe4 Rcd8 { ?! It's not that I didn't see the a-pawn hanging, but I thought the two tempi needed weren't worth it. Qxa3-d6 is actually a safe extra pawn, since White can't do anything serious in the meantime (maybe Nf3 would be best!). } 23. Qb2 Bd5 24. Rce1 Bxe4 25. Rxe4 Qc7 26. d4 Na5 27. Qd2 { ? Better is 27. Qb4 Nc4 28. Re2 Rfe8 29. Rxe8 Rxe8 with a small plus for Black. } Nc4 28. Qf2 Rde8 { ?! Remember the a-pawn? Again, it could be taken safely. } 29. Rfe1 Rxe4 30. Rxe4 { He offered a draw, saying "You're a little short of time." I have 17 minutes for 11 moves, but I liked my position and there was something about the offer, like it was a favor due to my time pressure, that made we want to play some moves. } Qc6 31. Re7 Nxa3 { Better late than never? } 32. Qb2 { ? Nf3 Qxc6 33. Rxb7 had to offer better chances than this. } Nb5 { ! Okay, maybe an exclam is too much but I'm enjoying myself now! Something is going to drop. } 33. c4 Qxc4 34. Nf3 Qd5 35. Qf2 f5 { ! There are safer moves like Rd8, but I give myself credit for playing this, which is also good, and more importantly I thought it was best, so I played it! } 36. Re5 Qd7 37. Qe3 fxg4 38. Nxg5 { Honestly, I didn't see this coming but I had 5:30 left for three moves and I just took my time and relaxed. An interesting note--I didn't even think about how good my position was at this point; I was in the zone, just playing moves. } Qxd4 { ! Simple but effective! Looks like Black gets an ending four pawns up. } 0-1