Friday, March 30, 2012

Best of Chess Blogging Part III: What a Wonderful World

And now, Part III of the Best of Chess Blogging! This incorporates everything that has been submitted that I didn't get into Part I and Part II. If I have missed someone's submission please let me know and I'll get it added.

I suggest for maximum enjoyment you play the song below and open the links in new really is a wonderful world, that has such people in't!


For instance, GM Nigel Davies. Love his books and his blog, The Chess Improver.

Intermezzo from Hebden Bridge nominated:

Best Blog, Best Moves!
"I simply can't see past Tim Krabbe's amazing "Chess Curiosities". It's the benchmark for any chess blog in my view and his 101 Greatest Chess Moves is still the daddy!"

"From the Hebden Bridge Chess Club site and my own blog I would pick the following:

Most Popular Post
Statistically our best ever post was Lenin vs Hitler: Who Won? This post has spawned a series of spin offs and I was recently amazed to find that the game featured in this post has been put on You Tube badged as the genuine article. The internet is a wonderful place!

Favorite Post
I wish I could always produce posts like this one about visualization Don't Look Now with interesting content gathered from across the internet and served up with my own perspective. Sadly time rarely permits such strenuous efforts!

Best Game
Not many candidates here! I still have a spot for this ancient game. I've certainly not played many better in the intervening years. Bit of a sad indictment really." (make sure and check this game out, it's a blast! RP)
Fabror the Guru: "I would like to contribute in my humble ways": The Act of Learning

Tommyg's tournament coffee cup

Tommyg of The Prodigal Pawn is an expert musician and teacher, and he got that way the same way one gets better at chess. PRACTICE! So we appreciate his perspective on chess improvement, as in Chess: A Fresh Perspective

He also came through with:
The difference between Practicing Chess Tactics and Practicing the Application of Chess Tactics, some software reviews and the WORST advice I ever received about chess openings!

"And without a doubt one of my favorite games I have ever played": Another ICC Win!! A Lesson Learned from Capablanca!
NM Dana (Mackenzie) Blogs Chess submitted as his best posts: Jerry Hanken on Reshevsky vs. Fischer, "A little-known piece of chess history from the Fischer-Reshevsky match, which I heard from Jerry Hanken."

Pruess Parties Like It's 1899, "A great game from IM David Pruess, played in true 1800s style."

Maris'd "I get my Life Master certificate, but I find out that it comes with an asterisk."

Who Loves Chess the Most? "Sort of an homage to a very common chess player who has nevertheless done something quite uncommon -- he has quite possibly lost more games than anyone else in the USCF."

Yes, as a matter of fact I am "obsessed by chess."

SonofPearl suggested as his "better efforts":

A recent book review of Frank Brady's new Bobby Fischer biography.

"Some of my pet niggles came out in 10 Ways You Look Like A Chess Newbie" (A wonderful piece! RP)

"My improvement tips for other lazy players like me," 8 Shortcuts To Chess Improvement 

"Lastly, a lighthearted a not terribly serious quiz," Are You Obsessed By Chess? 
Broken Pawn, let us note, won the 2011 Chess Journalists Award for "Best Blog." Hank Anzis, Prop., gives us his best:

Blue Devil Knight - "My three best, in my opinion, are":

The social dimension of chess improvement (a very important point!)

When and how much to analyze

Lessons from blitz (don't skip the interesting comments)

BDK deserves much more, and he provided it by his big post Blog Highlights way back in 2007. You'll note that by that date he had already done a LOT of thinking and writing about chess improvement. Also, he kept alive the Chess Blogging Carnival for 2011.
BDK just before the final round

Thank you, BDK!

Adventures of Rabin (NM) gave us as his five favorites:

Chess Adventures in Vietnam (published by the USCF)

Chess Struggles in Amish Land (Sturbridge torunament)

Boylston Quads Today

Liberty Bell Open/Back to Brandeis

National Chess Day (Boylston Chess Club Piece)

Rolling Pawns - "Here is my contribution":

Playing Home Game

Actually, Rolling Pawns has published many, many interesting games on his site and you should look some more of them over.
James Stripes in an earlier career.

Chess Skills by James Stripes - James writes, "I'm fond of Pillsbury's Mate (a piece of history that Edward Winter found worthy of mention is his notes)."

Chessmaster vs. Fritz: Analysis ("a clear comparison of the analysis features of two popular computer programs").

Chess on the iPad ("my most popular post: over 12,000 page views")

Best of the Best: Chess Informant Reader's Contest ("my list of the ten best games since 1966--submitted in a contest that won me $800 worth of CI disks")

Five sites well worth your perusal whose authors didn't submit any particular posts (or perhaps never heard of this madness:

Steve Giddins' Chess Blog

From Patzer to Master

The Awsomeness that is Blunderprone! (See his sidebar "popular posts" for a start)

Brooklyn 64
I originally found Mark Weeks as the chess guy at He used to do a monthly blog digest there and was kind enough to link this blog several times and that really helped increase readership. In 2008, for whatever reason, Mark and that site parted company and he began blogging at Chess For All Ages. If I may say, blew it! He also does the World Chess Championship Blog and Chess960 (FRC). Mark has spent quite a bit of time archiving his hundreds of articles from About here.

As far as his blogs go, he chose for this collection to gather the three  posts from his three blogs and link them at My Most Popular Posts. You, the reader, can take it from there. Mark Weeks has produced enough quality chess reading to fill several books and I hope you enjoy just browsing around his sites.
Can Anybody Translate This?
Michael Goeller commented, "Well, since you said you were doing classic chess blogs since the beginning of chess blogging, I thought I'd put some together for you and your readers. This is, unfortunately, nowhere near a complete survey, which would be nice to compile but I do have a job and a family and my own blogging addiction to take care of":

Chess Is Fun by Jon Edwards. "This was the first real chess blog, and a model of usability and helpfulness to readers. My favorite posts are those that provide a brief book review, a well annotated game from the book, and -- just in case that were not enough for you -- a complete collection of games from the book! There are lots of great games on the White side of the Najdorf Sicilian, but I focused on some other stuff that interested me. You and your readers should really explore this site."

(NOTE: The pages below each have TONS of good stuff. I have just given a few highlights.)
April 30, 2004 Double Rook Sacs, Art of Attack in Chess, Super Nez, etc.
March 31, 2004 Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces, Jon Speelman's Best Games, Bogojno Tournament etc.

The Boylston Chess Club Weblog "This was the first major weblog and it did a lot to promote a chess blogging community. Here are some interesting posts, both modern and classic":

Hnefatafl, an ancient Viking board game, revived

Tilting at Windmills 

A Remarkably Successful Failure 

Measuring the Chess Blogosphere

Knights to some, de la Mazans to others

GM Kevin Spraggett "So good to see a GM chess blogger out there. Besides the lovely ladies, and the jokes, and the attacks on the Canadian Chess Federation, what I appreciate most are the annotated games (current and classic) and the quizzes. The quizzes most of all":

Today's Winning Chess Quiz

Another Chess Quiz (Frank Marshall)

Liz Vicary (Knows ALL!)

Her interviews with the USCL players were interesting and well received:

USCL Commissioner IM Greg Shahade
GM Larry Christiansen

She's a very successful coach: Pictures of her students.

"The Chess Mind One of the first and the best. Unfortunately, Dennis has had to move the blog twice, and one former blog (which had some of his best content) is now completely gone from the web. A terrible loss. His more recent work is solid, but more directed at analyzing the current games than engaging in the sort of things you generally look for in blogs. His analysis of the World Championship games was great":

Topalov Wins Game 1 (World Championship Match vs. Anand 2010)
Game 12 (live coverage)
Game 12 (with notes...)

Karpov vs. Spassky on Television, 1982

Marsh Towers: "His reviews really took off around 2008. However, the quality necessarily dropped a bit, as he often had to review several works in each piece. The past couple years, it has been mostly about music."

Here is a sample of the Marsh Tower book reviews.

"Someone else will have to add The Daily Dirt and The Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog which also deserve attention.

"As for my work, I would add my series on The Panther, which is my all time favorite even if it never got a lot of attention."

It should Michael, it should. Thank you very, very much for all of these great additions!
One more site I am going to highly recommend again, is Edward Winter's Chess Notes. If you enjoy chess history and accurate information about players, tournaments and games, this is the place to spend some time. I have recently found several gems to blog about, look for that in the near future!

This concludes The Best Of! Chess Blogging series, excepting any errata or submissions that were overlooked (if so, apologies in advance). It has been laborious but lovely. Enjoy, and please comment and link at your site!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Big, BIG Best of Chess Blogging Post Almost Done

Part I on Openings was here. Part II.

Part III will be done in a couple of days. It is large, as befits the final summation of very heights of the mammoth field of chess blogging.

Here's something wonderful to keep you happy until then:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Edward Winter on "The Greatest"

I have enjoyed the recent (Relatively) Strongest Player poll and analysis of the players (and here are my older posts on the "The Greatest" and Top Ten players). Below is a stimulating view from a slightly different perspective by the great chess historian Edward Winter of Chess Notes fame:

Chess: The Greatest

The first paragraphs:

In discussions of that hoary question ‘Who is the greatest player of all time?’ assumptions tend to be made about the historical progression of playing strength which are by no means favourable to the old-timers. The view that chess is forever moving forward forces the conclusion that Morphy would have plenty to learn from the moderns, and one thus reads condescending speculation about how the American would fare today if he was generously granted six months or a year to ‘absorb all the new chess knowledge’ that has come into being since his time. His inferiority is further demonstrated by those deceptive ‘historical ratings’ and other mathematical sideshows. They have much to answer for, since it is only in the small print that we learn that if an Elo rating of, say, 2500 is a) earned by a modern player and b) dumped on a dead master that does not mean that the two are of comparable strength. The late Professor Arpad Elo confirmed this in a letter to us dated 18 November 1988.

With recourse to reason and logic, can a case be constructed for actually believing that some of the oldsters would be capable of unhorsing today’s leading exponents without any additional schooling? Objectivity is certainly needed here too, for the glamour attached to such names as Anderssen and Spielmann may misdirect a commentator who is by temperament a laudator temporis acti. In many respects the overall level of chess play, in terms of quantity and quality, has progressed immeasurably in recent decades, but it is noticeable that however large the mass of ordinary club players and ordinary masters the number of outstanding exponents at any one time remains relatively small. It is with that élite that we are concerned here. It can be argued that almost every chess title, including that of world champion, has been cheapened in recent years. ‘Grandmasters’ are so plentiful that it is quaint to recall how, even in 1953, their proliferation was being criticized. In that year’s May issue of Chess Review (page 129) a correspondent, W.N. Wilson, complained about the ‘loose use of the term’, and the magazine agreed that ‘there is something in Mr Wilson’s contention that there ought to be a distinctive title for those who tower head and shoulders above all others in their generation. With a couple of dozen grandmasters around now, we ought to have a grade designated between the bulk of these and the world champion’.

Take a few minutes to read the whole thing then come on back...

Winter wrote this in 1997, before the advent of really close "cooperation" between the top players and computers. I believe that in the intervening 15 years that grandmasters have indeed benefited from using computers for study, practice and especially to expand the range of chess ideas. Computers' ability to snatch material and weather the attack to victory and to find moves that are "ugly" but good have produced real advances, in my view. See for more of my opinions see this post, especially item 6.

Winter didn't minimze the progress in chess "strength" at the very top but as he concludes:

Do even today’s masters believe in their own superiority? Interviews indicate a mixture of views, but very few masters venture to claim that the ten strongest players of all time are all alive today. Personal ‘top ten’ lists almost invariably include a profuse sprinkling of old names, such as Capablanca. One can understand why he appears on almost everybody’s list: innumerable games were played by him in perfect style as far as anyone has been able to judge either then or now.

I don't think that has changed, if it is accurate. Maybe some of us should look into that claim, as a close examination of Capablanca's games could only make our own play stronger.

Monday, March 19, 2012

(Relatively) Strongest Player Poll Results

(Update 03.20.2012 - after I published this Fischer experienced a "surge" of 4 more votes to bring his total to 12, but that seems like a little ballot box stuffing after the fact. The text below remains the same.)

After 10 days of voting on the (relatively) strongest chess player, here are the results and some comments.

Thirty-one votes were cast (thank you to all who took the time) and The Winner is:

Garry Kasparov, with 14 votes (45%)

Garry Kasparov
I think it's certainly reasonable to choose Kasparov, especially based on the length of time he was at the very top. I left the exact criteria open ("How to rank degree of dominance and length of time at the top is left up to you!") but Kasparov sports the highest 5-year peak at Chessmetrics by more than 20 points and leads all the other time period "peaks" except the one-year, which is occupied by the second choice of our poll:

Bobby Fischer, with 7 votes (23%)

Robert J. Fischer
Fischer's results, from the second half of Santa Monica 1966 (when he came from the rear to almost catch Spassky for first place) on through the fabled demolition of Spassky for the championship at Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972 are fully the equal of Kapsarov's, but Fischer suffers a little from the fact that he didn't play as much chess during this period as Kasparov did consistently during his active career. However, Fischer's crushing of Taimanov, Larsen, Petrosian and Spassky on his path to the World Championship 1971-2 by a cumulative score of 31-10 represents arguably the most dominant run against really strong players in chess history. Not counting a forfeit, his score of (+24, -3, =14) in these matches still seems like a dream.

There was a three-way tie for 3rd place between Lasker, Capablanca and Morphy with 3 votes (10%). Morphy represents a special case in that he only played one tournament and a few serious matches in a period of less than two years, yet his dominance was so great that he received 3 votes in our poll.

Lasker played chess only periodically through his life, and he probably suffers from that fact, but he gets high marks for being at the very top for about 30 years. Check out his tournament record!

Emanuel Lasker
As ChessAdmin noted in the comments, "It's hard to top Capablanca's domination of his contemporaries, in my view." The view of Capa's relative strength certainly suffers from his inability to play much with the world's best from 1914-18, due to World War I. If he had had a chance to score a few results of the caliber of London 1922 (+11, =4 against most of the top GMs) during those years he might have finished right there with Kasparov and Fischer.
Jose R. Capablanca
Alekhine received just one vote, but his record after defeating Capablanca for the World Championship in 1927 was simply amazing. He didn't lose another tournament game for five years, and his result at Bled 1931 (+15, =11), 5.5 points clear of Bogoljubov and 6.5 ahead of the third place Nimzovich was an epic crush of historical proportions.

Alexander Alekhine
 Tal and Karpov got zero votes. Tal's three-year run to the World Championship 1957-60 was awesome but perhaps too short, and Karpov's results from 1977-82 were dominant, but perhaps not as overwhelming as some of the others. I'll just note that in their all their World Championship matches Kasparov only scored 21 wins to Karpov's 19 with 104 draws.

So, to go back to the top, was Kasparov really so dominant after all?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rule #1 Linkage

Links are the lifeblood of blogging, and the chess blogosphere can always use more! A few quick hits:

Susan Polgar links/reposts a Daily Mail story about the new dress codes for European Chess Union tournaments, mostly focusing on the women...Checkmate! 'No cleavage' dress code makes chess tournaments less sexy than ever. I read the article and it's not as bad as all that:

'In respect to shirts, the second from the top button may also be opened in addition to the very top button.'

More ridiculous, in my view, is: The rules demand 'a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look with colors, fabrics, shoes and accessories, for both men and women.'

Heh, who is going to be the judge of that? Well, it's the EU so they'll have a conference in Brussels, presumably. It'll take days and the food will be delicious.

I received email recently from coolchessgm proprietor Anshuman Jain offering to exchange links. My pleasure. It is a nicely designed site, and he even offers to analyze games. I think I'll take him up on that! I've added him to the sidebar, and in the near future I will be updating and improving that chess blog list over there, along with other site updates. There are a number of blogs that have been inactive for quite awhile and I may move them to an "inactive" category or something. Liquid Egg Product calls them "zombies" and "corpses" but of course I am far too fastidious to use such terms.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Poll: (Relatively) Strongest Player

I've never had a poll here before, and thought this might be fun for those opinionated chess players out there...which is probably about 99% of us. I previously shared my thoughts on The Greatest and the Top Ten (including my criteria and reasoning). Probably we all agree that comparing players of different eras with each other is questionable, but this poll is of your opinion of the strongest player relative to his contemporaries. How to rank degree of dominance and length of time at the top is left up to you! I believe I've included all the obvious candidates but there is an "other" just in case. If you pick that I would like to see your choice in the comments. Your comments on why you chose a player are of course very much appreciated.

It could be that with the level of technology and technique we have now it will be almost impossible for anyone in the future to dominate like the players listed in the poll. We shall see.

And now, the nominees:

Who was the (relatively) strongest player in chess history? free polls 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Best of Chess Blogging, Part II!

Well, it took over a month but I believe you'll find it was worth it:

The Best Of! Chess Blogging Part II: From the Valley of Despair to the Mountaintop of Blogging Greatness!

Part I, on Openings was here.

In Part II we let the bloggers choose some of their own best posts, generally. A few of the Giants have not nominated themselves so I might have to go out and track some more items down. But below is enough to keep you reading and contemplating for a good long time.

Rocky Rook

Rocky is a good man and a smart technical guy--if you play on the Free Internet Chess Server like he and I do you are being gifted with Configuring Babachess to Look Like Fritz and some Babachess backgrounds (very classy). His most viewed post, he says, is a J.K. Rowling quote on failure. In the business, we call that "traffic bait." But he considers his "Legacy contribution to the chess world" to be his Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (be sure to open the link in this post and see what's in the .pgn file). Finally, just for fun a Lev Aronian lookalike.

Roman-Chess aka Chessblogger--some more interesting tech, Chess database formats - PGN vs. Chessbase. Of great general interest, Roman (who is a 2200-rated master) shares his thoughts on what it takes to reach that level in Becoming a chess master. Inspired by a tournament that went well for him, How to prepare for a Chess Tournament. Finally, what he called "Soviet chess school ideas in the computer era": 10 tips for Analysing your Chess Games.

Temposchlucker (The Great),

a blogger originally of the "Knights de la Maza" School, has been doing this stuff for seven years now, and recommended for our edification What dela Maza forgot to tell us. I would urge you to read this concise post very carefully and think about it.  He says "The reason I like this post is that it is a final conclusion after 7 years of investigation." For a bit more on the background and history of the "Knights (de la Maza) Errant" that have been such a big part of the chess blogging scene he gave us a post of  Don Q that shows with humor where the "Don. Q" part comes in. Don Q. became a middle-school math teacher but I know somewhere in his heart the Quest still calls, if faintly...

Tempo was also kind enough to link this lovely bit of art from our friend Blunderprone, alias George, alias awesome dude:

The Rocky Errant Picture Show.

ChessAdmin of Path to Chess Mastery has only been blogging since July 2011 but already has put up many well-written and thoughtful pieces. When he wrote a post considering his "Best of" he chose for a game his win ("many years ago") from the Denker Tournament of State High School Champions, for his "best," Setting the Scene (a very fine explanation of what he's trying to do with his chess blogging ) and for a "Best EVAH" in the greater chess blogosphere the "largest pseudo-flame war ever on chess improvement blogs": Shy Guest Blogger (from Elizabeth Vicary's blog). Yes, I was THERE for that slugfest and it was fun.

Visit ChessAdmin's site very week, it is always well worth your time.

Ralph of Lost in Chessland submitted his "best game or best move" and there is all kinds of fascinating detail here. For one thing he beats a player rated almost 400 points higher. For another he uses the "Balogh counter-gambit with colors reversed." I don't know if I would try it but isn't the very name awesome? Finally, he wins with a beautiful interference move. See if you can spot the opponent's saving move 24.

Michael Goeller of The Kenilworthian

has produced many, many great posts over the years and he suggested a few for inclusion here: Chess and Evolutionary Theory is an interesting essay exploring the concept--I remember commenting on it at the time. I posted some of his opening essays and compilations in Best of Part I, but he has so much quality blogging that you need to check his work out in detail. See his "Best of..." on the right side bar at The Kenilworthian. For another thoughtful essay, see his Chess and Self-Control.

Signalman pointed us to some great books that are avialable FREE on the web including Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca and Chess History and Reminiscences by H. E. Bird. Among his blog posts he includes are A drawing move? How come I lost? and Do you have an Opening for me? Since we don't seem to have a photo of Signalman we will have to do something different:

Fractal Chess: Next Move, King to Who Knows?

Liquid Egg Product notes that "Chessloser would be on here if he hadn't taken down his blog." Well, fortune favors the prepared, my friend. Back around New Year's 2009 chessloser (who did not normally use CAPS in his writings) retired/disappeared from the blog scene. I can happily report, however, that he is spotted from time to time on FICS. I did link to a few chessloser gems, all of which are here on the RLP chessloser page. A few things the [G]reat chessloser wrote deserve their very own quote in "Best of," because in many ways he was THE BEST:

The Coruscating Brilliance of Chessloser, Again:

yesterday i became a real chessman. yesterday, the postman delivered the one thing that makes me a bona fide chessplayer. yesterday, i got my chessclock. that’s like a surfer getting his surfboard, or a postal worker getting his high powered rifle with the scope. anyone can play chess, but only those who are commited (or should be, ha ha) have a chess clock. it is black and sleek, hand crafted out of only the finest in cheap plastic, lovingly and carefully assembled by the skilled artisinal hands of cheap chinese labor. that’s right, just like a lambourghini or fine wine, i have an IMPORT. i have an IMPORTED chess clock. how classy is that?

Just a little more for here, but really, REALLY do go and read all the chessloser posts I was fortunate enough to preserve...

i'm just like tal, only i lose:

the only difference, really, between him and me is, he knew what he was doing, he calculated and analized and had a plan, and he won the majority of his games, where as i have the wreckless sacrificing down pat, the bravado, but i don’t back any of it up with sound play or a halfway decent plan, i often fail to see the consequences of my moves, and then i lose miserably. but, every once in a while, i catch someone on a bad day, and it works out for me, like in this game here.

UPDATE 3.7.12: In the comments ChessAdmin points out that chessloser is available via the WayBack Machine. Thank goodness; I went and read some more and the man is/was/hopefully-will-be a genius of a writer. Also, I have discovered this photo, which The Government had tried to suppress for National Security reasons:

L-R: Likesforests (The Endgame Tactician), chessloser, Blunderprone and Ivan W (Getting to 2000) at the World Open, Philadelphia 2008. Wow.

Okay, we're only half way through the material and I think that's dense enough for now. A whole bunch more "Best of!" stuff will be coming soon. For now, Happy Trails.

This girl has the right attitude.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Next Best of Chess Blogging Post Coming Soon...

I am finally getting on the second "Best of!" Carnival post. It should be done this weekend. I have always felt these posts should have lots of cool images and feel "special'" so your patience will be rewarded.

The first in the Best of series, on openings, was here.

I would love to have even more material for these posts so if you haven't linked something yet, please do so in the comments!

If y'all don't come through with some content I'll let this guy know!