05 February, 2015

Smothered Improvement

How to know that you are improving at chess ?

A complicated question, since it pre-supposes you have a base level, and an ongoing plan or improvement schedule.

As I am not rated via FIDE or national standards, I rely on a general feeling of improvement rather than changes in recognised rating numbers  ( although you could say that at least the Team League rating is a consistent one to benchmark against, albeit not a "recognised" one ).

I had a deja vu feeling when playing this game.....

Not here, where after f3 appeared on the board, I saw the lovely check with Qd4...

Promptng Qd4+

...and expected that White would play Rxf2 to limit his losses.

29 January, 2015


Well, isn't that a co-incidence !

On the same day that Stockfish 6 is released, out comes another new engine...

I doubt if there is any competition, since BootChess  ( or here ) is only 487 bytes in size, and " doesn't do" castling, and is fairly lax on applying chess rules !

Created in homage to the ZX81 chess games of the early 80s, it is an attempt to create the smallest chess-playing code and demonstrate optimisation in coding, using assembly language.

I tip my hat to the guy, since I only did assembly language coding once, back in 1984, when learning the basics of programming. I have never had to do it for real, and for that I am truly grateful !

I suspect that Bootchess vs Stockfish would a foregone conclusion, but it might be fun trying to play Bootchess just the once, although it would take me a while to work out how to compile it !

See the BBC for the full story, or ArsTechnica for a more geek view.

24 January, 2015

T63 Opening Summary

T63 is still running, but for playoff qualifiers only : the main show is over, but the encores are about to start, so to speak.

Since both teams I am involved with didn't make the playoffs, ( though in both cases only just falling short ! ) here's the breakdown of the season in openings so far in TL chess.

It is hard to put things any differently than previous posts, since  both the Sicilian and French Defences remain top choices for Black against the main White start of 1.e4.  ( In fact, 485 games start with e4 vs 308 with d4 ).

The remaining openings jostle for position in the runners-up enclosure, but are usually in the same proportions, except that this time, the Spanish (Ruy Lopez) has stormed into 3rd place and the Caro-Kann has dropped out of the top 10 completely.

Makes one wonder what happened in the last few months. New book or DVD on the Spanish ? Major victory by a super GM ?  Time warp back to 1914 ?

Regardless, a classic opening is back for a while !

Other openings just after the top 10, and in double figures for games played, are the Dutch, Centre Counter, Slav, Nimzo-Indian, Pirc, Grünfeld, Philidor, Italian, Benko Gambit and Guicco Piano.

You could probably say that second slice of openings is a 50/50 split of e4 vs the rest, so e4 is definitely taking the lion's share of the attention.

19 December, 2014

Black to move and win

Clearly , as I didn't see the win for Black , neither did he, as we had repeated a position.

I knew I should have played Rxf2 previously, but played Kh1 just to gain some time to think.

What is the best move for Black here ?

04 December, 2014

A Forced Win

Earlier in this game, I had played a Rxh6 sacrifice, since I 'felt' that an attack must be possible, but couldn't calculate it properly.. so I just played it to find out.

It was, of course, not a correct sacrifice, in that it was not overwhelming, not winning.

However, weak responses from Black  ( including the bizarre decision not to take the Bishop on d3 (blunting any attack) , or later, Nxa2+ to win a pawn) allowed me another shot.

Again, I felt there was something there, but with limited time, I played the wrong move in the position below.

After the game, I worked out the winning move, as there is a forced win available.

Doing this was very useful, since I realise that the reason I missed the win is that I overlooked mating patterns: one completely ( although it must have been in my thoughts at some time, since I had played Ne5 previously ), the other, and original mating pattern, just slipped out of my mind.

Losing both patterns and the focus in each, just pushed me in the wrong direction.

White to Play and win
Can you do better than me ? What do you play here to win ?

25 November, 2014

T62 Openings Summary

T62 has concluded, so just on the eve of the T63 season, an appropriate time to look again at what Amateurs play in the opening phase in TL chess.

Still nailed in first place is the Sicilian Defence : what more can be said, even Anand chose to play it in the current WCC, so one can hardly complain !

Remaining in the top ten, and more on less in the same proportions, are the usual suspects of the French Defence, Queen's Pawn Systems, and the English Opening, just like last season.

Bubbling under the top 10 are the Slav, Pirc, Grunfeld, Scandinavian, Nimzo-Indian, Two Knights and Alekhine, all in double figures for number of games played.