September 15, 2012
After a bit of a dry spell, I’ve taken up studying tactics and openings again, among else by joining chess.com. They offer you a 30-day diamond membership trial and so far, it looks like I’m going to keep it. I prefer their tactics trainer to ChessTempo because the puzzles are much more straightforward and easier, hence more fun and hopefully more likely to ingrain basic patterns in my brain. I’m also a fan of their Chess Mentor feature and the videos. The layout is crisp yet appealing, and the overall feel of the site is that of a community of mostly novices and intermediate players who are motivated to improve but not overzealously so, which is exactly what I’m looking for.
In today’s tactics training, I came across a classic pattern that I had forgotten about, so I made a gif of it. The two patterns it combines are back rank mate and interference.
In the comments, the Chess Adventurer suggests I explain the concept of interference. (From a previous post:) An interference is a piece sacrifice with the intention of cutting off vital lines or blocking escape squares. In the gif below, White sacrifices the knight with check to disrupt the line between Black’s rook and queen.
In the next gif, White uses his bishop for an interference between two connect rooks, effectively trapping Black’s rook in the White camp:
July 3, 2012
Viswanathan Anand’s talk on thinking in chess has already been advertised on several chess sites and blogs, but I’d like to quote a snippet from the talk that struck me as an important “psychological chunk” on how to approach the game and how to approach a position. Anand reiterates — in slightly different terms — the old adage that it’s better to have a bad plan than to have no plan at all:
It’s much better to be deluded and confident than to have the right information and not know what to do… because in the end what you are looking for is clarity at the board, or clarity in action. You want to be able to play a position, you want to be able to enter it if that plays to your strengths, and that’s all that really matters. So even some false confidence is fine.
May 6, 2012
I picked up what I consider a rather valuable chunk from two master club players concerning the movement of your a-pawn: If you’ve got the initiative as White on the kingside and you have to respond to Black trying to muster counterplay on the queenside, you respond to his queenside expansion by playing a4! Whereas if you are Black waiting to create some counterplay against White while defending against his initiative on the queenside, you respond to a queenside expansion with the calm a6. Long story short: If you’re on the attacking side (having the initiative), move your pawns aggressively to claim more space; if you’re defending (not having the initiative), move your pawns defensively to protect the space in your terrain.
April 25, 2012
A rule of thumb for Black when playing against Spanish/Italian openings with a knight on f6: Don’t castle when your dark-square bishop is locked out by a pawn on d6; the pin created by the bishop on g5 against the knight on f6 tends to be very strong. Of course, if you know your theory, you’ll be able to wiggle out of the pin unscathed eventually, but for the less well-versed,having to defend against the pin is extremely annoying indeed. Hence, be wary of locking out your bishop and castling prematurely.
This works in very well in conchunktion (pun drum roll, please!) with the Bindelicious chunk.
April 8, 2012
A useful chunk for the endgame: If your king is exposed to checks by the enemy knight, taking the “diagonal opposition” (squares highlighted in green) to the knight forces the knight to manoeuvre three times before being able to check again. Other moves allow ealier checks.
April 6, 2012
A follow-up chunk to doubling pawns at f6: create a bind on f5 to prevent the weakened f-pawn from advancing. Remember the old adage to immobilize weak pawns in the enemy’s camp!
P.S.: I’ve just reviewed all the posts I’ve published on this blog so far, and I was struck by how familiar some of the chunks have become. Some of them are so obvious to me now that it seems almost silly to have posted them; yet let’s not forget that it’s easy to misjudge the effort that goes into learning this game. Things that are perfectly apparent to us now are by no means obvious to the beginning player. I’d also say that some of the gifs have been nearly useless to me, particulary those that are either too concrete or too abstract. I don’t know how others experience this, but for me as a 1700+ player, the most satisfying and indeed most motivating routes to study are those paved with clear, simple explanations illustrated by one or two examples, avoiding over-generalisation while at the same time neglecting overly detailed variations. I simply lack the patience and the skill to absorb and judge the merit of tactical complications and in-depth variations; in the meantime, I feel as though my play is greatly enhanced by having at least some clue as to how to approach a position before starting my (admittedly modest) calculations. My goal at this point is to consolidate as many relevant chunks as possible and put them to use, and absorbing some more along the way. This is, of course, a rather lazy approach, but in my estimation a practical and, most importantly, an enjoyable one.
April 1, 2012
Pawns blocking lines of enemy bishops are an asset, especially in the endgame. Instead of grabbing more material, Black should aim at keeping the crucial diagonals of the White’s black-square bishop locked up in order to promote his pawn.