Friday, 28 October 2016

Carlsen v Nakamura is hosting the Carlsen v Nakamura Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship today. Unfortunately for Australian fans we are in the most difficult time zone, with the match due to start at 4am and finish around 7am. The format is a mix of 5m+2s, 3m+2s, and 1m+1s. The match isn't of a fixed length, rather being of a fixed time, with 5m+2s going for 90 minutes, 3m+2s for 60 minutes, and 1m+1s for 30 minutes. Based on the preliminaries, there is usually 20 to 30 games played, even if one player has an insurmountable lead.
However if you read this post in time, and are up early enough, it looks like it is worth watching, as there will be live commentary, a video feed, and competitions for spectators. As for the likely winner, I would normally tip Carlsen, but for this one I'm going to change my ways and suggest Nakamura is the slight favourite, mainly based on the amount of online blitz he plays.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Trolling at Blitz

Looking for a surprise opening at Blitz? The following line, first played by Paul Morphy might be worth a try. 1.e4 e5 2.c3 is guaranteed to at least gain you a few seconds on the clock, while your opponent decides if Nf6 or something else works.
In the example game, Black decides to grab the f2 pawn with the knight, which loses on the spot. Capturing with check is better, but even then Black has to tread carefully. 5. ... Bxf2+ 6. Ke2 d5 7.Qxg7 seems to be best play, but at a fast time limit, Black could easily go wrong.

Morphy,Paul - Bottin,A [C20]
Paris it Paris, 1858

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

My one track mind

Recently I've developed a bad habit of not reassessing my position, to see if I have a better move or plan. Instead I am following my chosen plan fairly robotically, and then find out afterwards that I have missed a number of quicker wins. I do try and make sure I am not missing any good moves by my opponent, but annoyingly, I don't apply this discipline to myself.
Case in poit: my last round game from the Belconnen Club Championship. I thought I had played a nice smooth game, where I kept the position under control, didn't rush my attack, and found the simplest path to victory. In reality I missed the win of a pawn on move 27, a win of a rook(!) 2 moves later, a forced mate  on move 30, and finally, a totally winning combination on move 32. Instead I followed the plan I had previously chosen, where if I calculated correctly, I would be a pawn up in a queen and pawn ending!

Press,Shaun - Pearce,Tim [B26]
Belconnen CC, 26.10.2016

Sunday, 23 October 2016


My absence over the weekend isn't to do with Civ VI (as hinted a previous post), but due to attending the 50th birthday party of Charles Zworestine (one of Australia's leading arbiters). Issues with trains late in the evening resulted in a fairly late return to where I was staying (after 1 am) and a missed deadline for yesterdays post.
Despite this I have a quick look at Civ VI and I already think its pretty good. My son mentioned that in updating the game from Civ V (and early versions) the developers used the 33/33/33 rule. Basically, they kept 33% of the game from Civ V as is. They improved 33% of the features in Civ V, and finally, the added 33% new features to the game.
This then got me thinking how this could be applied to chess improvement. Changing how we play is often difficult, but a similar idea might be helpful. If you are thinking of a change of style/opening or approach, then look after you more recent set of games, and see what you are doing right and wrong. Keep 33% of the features where it seems to be working for you, improve the next 33% and finally, replace what isn't working with something that is. By using these ratios, you don't completely throw away everything you know, but at the same time, you do commit to improving existing skills and learning some new ones.
It probably applies best to openings (keep a third, improve a third, change a third), but it may also be applicable to other parts of the game as well.

Friday, 21 October 2016

And in other news ...

Civilization VI was released today. That is all ....

Thursday, 20 October 2016

I do win the occasional CC game

Despite my somewhat poor results in correspondence chess (19/57) I have yet to throw in the towel. I normally have around 10 to 12 games going at any one time, with a mixture of tournament games and international/domestic matches.
When I started out I spent a lot of time analysing my games (like a good CC player) but in recent years it is a cursory glance, some unstructured analysis, and then an agonising choice about which is the least worst move to play. As a result I play less like a CC player, and more like a OTB player who has forgotten what he had planned to play next. Nonetheless I do occasionally manage to play the right moves, which is somewhat satisfying.
An recent example comes from the Australian Interstate teams event, where I was up against Graeme Deacon from NSW. Normally the choice of the Petroff's indicates a drawish game was likely, but the opening went down a side street, which gave chances both sides. The pawn on e5 turned out to be a thorn in Blacks position, and once it was joined by the f pawn, I had enough of an advantage to force an early resignation.

Press,Shaun - Deacon,Graeme [C43]
CCLA Interstate, 04.08.2016

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Carlsen hustles the hustlers

Taking a leaf from Maurice Ashley's late night chess adventures, Magnus Carlsen decided to have a try at playing some New York chess hustlers. The outcome wasn't really a surprise, with Carlsen handing out some Norwegian chess justice. He played a few games for the crowd (which included actress Liv Tyler) although it turns out some of his opponents had no idea who he was.
Gizmodo has a nice story about the whole activity, including video of the goings on. If you watch the clip, make sure you stay until the end, where a black squirrel almost steals the show.