Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CHESS ANALOGIES are everywhere

I’m at my daughter piano Recital.  It is going well, and she is playing reasonable well; well poised and reasonably accurate (perhaps especially when considering her practice…) when it strikes me. 

A piano recital is a really excellent analogy to chess, and as a sit there watching all these young improving piano students; I’m thinking about all the long hours you don’t see where each pianist has strained and struggled to master his scale, and get the fingers playing the right notes at the right times….

Chess is much like that! Where one player looses the thread to a horrible blowout; another triumphs in a masterly blowout.  Our practice, and persistence are all tested in this regard.   

We know, generally, the “winning way” when it comes to chess.   You play a opening your comfortable with; and accrue some kind of middlegame chances.   Then either you find powerful tactical combination or find some of hopeful grinding endgame; that tips you towards victory.   But just knowing how the music is suppose to sound is not enough!... In slow serious games you see what you’ve become.   I’m NOT do a lot of tournaments, but I’m playing in the slow chess league and getting more serious with 45 45 games.

Anways, a great game MIGHT not be as easy to appreciate, and not as obvious to untrained ears. But in the war of moves; legitimate skill cannot be faked.  I hope that I, as well am gaining some of my daughters form ; and working towards more impressive performances.

ANYWAYS, as my slump eases, these days, chess analogies seem everywhere.  Church sermons, work banter, even dreams!  Is this a sign that I’m spending an epic amount of time thinking of chess?

I said before that I was struggling with blunders More and especially in my last effort to improve my blitz game.   I’ve been working through my games and its true!  Blundering has picked up, and it begs the question, WHY?

I think I’ve finally found an answer to that question.   During my last “slump”; tactics puzzle took a big hit- as I was determined not to drop any of my “turn-based” games at   What I noticed with the blitz is that- I was missing tactical chances.

 If you want to give a lower rated player a lot of chances; aimlessly wander your pieces around a lot and sooner of later; some golden opportunity will percolate through their head.   Moreover, and just beyond that, I’ve always had tendency to blunder quite a lot. Miscounting, very easy tactics and hanging things.  Its just that , head all full of recent tactics- many players are a bit aimless- and my game sharpens up.  There’s not as much opportunity to blunder in passive, aimless positions, because I’m seeing more. 

Anyways, I’ve decided to repetitively play through those games.  Suggesting moves for each position and comparing to what I did play.   Did, I , in review blunder all over again?  Experience is now saying; mostly No.  but this simple exercise is.  I need to Prevent blunders at any speed; and the best way to work on the mental flaws that create them; is to spend up.  I’ve been seeing more opportunities, particularly as I’ve dived back into tactics puzzles.

The Key is to play whole games like this, rapidly.  Blitzing off moves- while really concentrating on not putting out blundering moves that lose material-on-the spot, or allow simple tactics.  

In the future, of course, more careful and comprehensive efforts are warranted.  But the point is I’ve I’m only blundering 1:10 – 1:15.  If I were to spend lots of time pergame; slowly working through all the positional aspects doesn’t uncover many blunders and most of them are too silly and easy to really be analyzing them anyways.   They need to be written off as candidates at any chess speed.

I’ve got to end the noise; of completely botching the melody beyond recognition. And I need to eliminate blunders; such that I don’t need to have tactical “opportunities” to compensate. 

Music to my ears!  Despite the slump (my, indexes are all clear about the existence of one);  over at  Most of my slow chess numbers are going very well.  I’ve won a couple more Turn-based chess; and delivered victory for team Pittsburgh in their Match vs glassglow.

My Turn-based ELO is now around 1650, and IMHO; is probably too high.  I can only think that efforts to carefully work out the position on the analysis board, justify the Low Class “B” ELO.... but that itself will pair me up with more talented opposition; and I'm expecting an increase in the analytical ability in some of my games.  

OTB, though, has gone downhill badly.  My only enthusiastic opponent is now a nursing home and has been struggling to stay out of the hospital.  There are no LOCAL tournaments that I’m aware of – and I really don’t think I can make the longer drive work.    So, I think my skills will simply have to be developed and proven over the internet.

Both USCF and FIDE, have now made efforts to standardize and accept Internet play as a form of either blitz or rapid chess strength.   Not everyone, will accept, internet credentials. But chess strength is chess strength- if you get high numbers off the internet (without computer assistance) you are in fact a strong player.  Ratings are not an ego trip; they are a validation of skill.  Not itself important- but reassuring and motivating.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CHESS; Clarity in thought

ROUGHT WEEK;  This has NOT been a good week.   There are up and downs to everything I suppose; and this week saw a steady decline in the amount of time spent studying, and my results in the few chess games I have attempted.

Its days like these that bring me to deeply ponder my conviction to this sport.
WHAT is that I’m struggling so badly to seek with my chess?, WHY does this game truly matter to me?  WHY do I work so Hard at this game, when it sometimes seems it entirely in vain and success eludes me?

I think the answer is to these questions is important motivation to my weekly effort to learn and grow in this hobby. Chess for me is the Quest for Clarity  in thought.

INTERMISSION.  Difference between a Blunder and a mistake.
So you’ve played a good line and gone along, hoping for the best and struggling to see the ramification of your moves.   Then along ‘the Unexpected’  Move.  Pause, perhaps a big pause… what is going on here?? Is something wrong?  Of course not, you think in the calmest demeanor possible.   Showing Poise and confidence you earnestly rebuke your opponents silly move-  Do you want to just give me a free bishop?  You mentally say. Ok- I’ll take it….

the reply is instant and sharp.  Never mind poise, never mind confidence.  You silly patzer- You overlooked check and every freakin piece in his posse is soon riding to rip your position to shreds!!  ALAS a dreadful blunder!

Or is it?  perhaps its just a mistake??   A lesson in semantics; kind of, but I think an important distinction. 

Basically, If I move in a way that gives the opponent a significant advantage that he/she didn’t have happen before,  this then is a blunder.   On the other hand;  a mistake is a move that creates or increases a weakness in our own position.

MY GOAL, put simply…  Then this becomes my mission and my goal.   I want to learn to play chess, such that I don’t make Blunders and I want to learn how to take advantage of a person’s weaknesses.
And the point is to gain; Poise, awareness, and discipline.  But above all Clarity in thought!

In life, all things can seem right.  but in chess; the Right idea can be tested and proven; provided we don’t voluntarily blunder our advantages. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Interview with Evgeny Tomaskevsky; hints in evolving as a chess player

I’ve chosen to Pick some things out of the very excellent Interview that (English translation) from ane Interview that Evgeny Tomashevsky gave. 

Evgeny Just won the third round of the grand prix and is now one of the favorites to place in the Grand prix Series (1st and 2nd finalists are automatically enrolled in the next Candidates tournament to compete for the opportunity to face Magnus Carlsen in a match for world championship in 2016).

It might be appropriate to share some brief biographical information.  Evgeny Tomashevsky is a Strong GM from the Russian town of Saratov; in the caucus region of Russia.   His positional play, and quiet demeanor has earned him the nickname “the professor”. 

 While the most recent grand prix is not his only big win (2nd in the 2007 Aeflot open is pretty impressive)- this just might his biggest victory yet, having earned an impressive amt of grand prix points and winning decisively over grandmaster after grandmaster.

His interview is both interesting and instructive.  I’ll try to keep my commentary in italics as to not be confusing…  Bold face shall highlight what I think is very interesting.

E.SUROV: It often happens, …. that a participant who had won a stage wouldn't manage to repeat that success, neither in the next stage nor at all. Have you pondered over this tendency?E.TOMASHEVSKY: No, I haven't paid attention to that. First of all, it would be an exaggeration to say that I had had a firm intention to win this stage. Indeed, I had expected to perform well, to get a good score, but it's not that I had expected to finish exactly first and thus had studied the statistics of previous winners. In my opinion, this statistic is relative, as all statistics are in general. It could go one way today and another way tomorrow. (you see in many strong chess players an effort NOT to fret and obsess over standing.  Instead most of them usually echo the thought- I’ll do my best and let the results fall where they may)
E.SUROV: But do you understand that the situation has been changed for you? Now, before the final stage, you are among the three favorites of the whole Grand Prix series. Will you try to instil something in your mind and play the Khanty-Mansiysk stage as if nothing has happened?E.TOMASHEVSKY: I'm not going to instil anything in my mind, I will just keep playing as usual. If you aren't calm, it lessens your chances. What's the point of being worried? I think one of the factors that assured my good result in this stage was exactly my objective perception of the tournament situation during each part of it. What's the point of depriving myself of this advantage voluntarily?   (huge!  any given lingering feeling would do the same, and I think  that one should work, quite hard to get a mastery over our feelings as we play our opponents.  Beware of the emotion and work on grounding yourself in objectivity.)  One should just come, play and be calm. It's only in the course of a tournament that you could think about your chances and things like that.
E.SUROV: Misha Pushkin asks: 'Did you have any doubts before the tournament'?E.TOMASHEVSKY: One always has doubts before a tournament. 'If you don't have doubts then you shouldn't go on the stage', actors say. It was a strong and difficult tournament, and, of course, I had had doubts. But one should be able to fight them somehow, just to come and play, and I am usually able to do so when I'm in good shape.
E.SUROV: Then, talking about life in general, are there things you have no doubts about? Some strong beliefs, maybe?E.TOMASHEVSKY: As a matter of fact, I try to avoid creating too many things like that for myself, because I don't think that having no doubts means being intelligent. In my opinion, doubts are a sign of intelligence. One should doubt even the most obvious things now and then. (I like that he seeks to promote of feeling of great doubt, AND remain calm.  For me ttoo often… ‘Doubts Escalate into a Feeling of Un-calmness and then patzer chess and tactical destruction’…  so I think we should be careful not to bury our doubt as we do our million puzzles. Doubt that there IS a pattern in there.  And Who knows perhaps, the author missed some hidden refute!  If you look for it and don’t just presume that the pattern is of course a win;  you’ll be fostering critical thinking that will serve you well…)

E.SUROV: Another question from our feedback: 'How does your average day go in terms of training? How many hours per day do you study? How much of this time is allotted to solving tactical puzzles?'
E.TOMASHEVSKY: It's a good question. Even though I've been asked it repeatedly in my interviews, the answer would always be different, because, for example, the amount of work we've done as the preparation for the Grand Prix has been really large. When you are to prepare for a serious tournament, the preparation takes nearly all your time. It's hard to say exactly how much it takes per day on average. Sometimes it's up to 10 hours, while sometimes you feel you should take some break. But on average, you have to work every day intensely and a lot. As for solving tactics... 'For a chess player, solving tactics is the same as practicing scales for a piano player', as Yury Sergeevich Razuvaev (Tomashevsky's long-term coach in the past - CN) would say. In general, I can't say I need it badly, but anyway, it's better to 'practice scales' now and then, just to keep your mind agile, to keep up the rhythm. So, I think one should do tactical exercises from time to time anyway. I don't know exactly how much time I spend solving tactics, but it's a part of my preparation, of course..   ( NOT the most revealing look at the training program of a superGM’s nonetheless there is a few kernels of insight.  First It confirms my opinion that whatever ELSE your training program should contain; it should contain tactic puzzles; and tactic puzzles should be done as continuously as possible.   Second I think in the end, intensity is the most relevant part of a training program and a necessary part of making the sincere and honest effort to improve.   Lastly even with one of the world top GM’s the training program varies and is sometimes more or less.   Persistence is IMHO one of the great keys to getting out of the patzer grades.  And Persistence as in consistent  effort, course corrections, and personal aspirations)

There most interesting.  I’d think him, if I could.  He is clearly a strong GM with a  good attitude and lots of future potential.  It would be interesting to see him strengthen and climbing the charts.