Saturday, July 23, 2005

King's Gambit riddle.... SOLVED!

As I have lamented several times in this web log, I struggle against the King's Gambit. I lose about 80% of the time with the black pieces. I often wondered why this was so. Was I getting psyched out by the dastardly 2. f4? Was it just a superior opening? The answer to both question now is clearly no.

Turns out, higher ranking people play it. No wonder why I tend to lose. For example, 1. e4 e5. 2. Nf3 the white player has an average FICS elo of X. For 1. e4 e5. 2. f4 (the dreaded King's Gambit), the average elo is X + 84 points. This is drastic.

My thanks to the people of SCID (fantastic and free chess resource) for making such an analysis possible. No longer will I fear the King's Gambit.... I just need to fear better players who tend to play it more.


Friday, July 22, 2005

No News

It's been 11 days since my last posting.

Unfortunately, there is not much to report. I continue to play a couple games here and there, and also practice my tacitics (Chess Tactics Server) and my openings.

I did go to New York city last week and got to see some cool chess stuff there. The city has a sort of "chess street" lined with two or three large chess stores. I didn't get to play any games (not enough time!), but just watching was fun. Interestingly, the stores were dominated with backgammon players.... a game I don't even know how to play. Is that the new "popular game" now?

Monday, July 11, 2005

I said rook endings are hard!

(Eyesofblue vs. Bobthepict)
(White to Play and Win)

I commented in an earlier posting that rook endings are frustrating. One wrong move can cost the game. Earlier, I benefited from my opponent's momentary lapse of insight. Here, it is my turn to play poorly.

In this game, I managed to contain Bobthepict (unusual name, huh?) rather effectively. The two rooks are dominating on the queenside, and everything is perfectly square on the kingside (three pawns vs. three pawns). The only real worry is the two passed pawns gunning down the b and c files. Can I contain them? Yes. 1. Rb8 is the simple and easiest trick. It puts pressure on the b-pawn while maintaining the attack on the c-pawn (via the c1 rook). Black is now in a bind. The poor black rook (all alone) must guard both pawns. Thus, 1... Rc4 is the only reply, but note how that rook is almost paralyzed on that square (if moved in and direction, any amount of squares, one of the black pawns will fall). From here, both black and white will bring their kings over to the queenside to wrestle for the two black pawns. In the end, white's rook will hold strong and white will win.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and indeed I missed the key winning move. I instead played 1. Ra6+?, which is a horrible mistake. "Never check unless there is a purpose behind it." I seemed to have forgotten this golden rule here. This move accomplishes absolutely nothing except bringing black's king closer to the two black pawns. And now the a6 Rook will need two moves to get back to coveted Rb8 spot. By then, of course, it is way too late. At best, white can only draw -- I, of course, botched it and Bobthepict scored the win.

Coincidence? YES!

Well, I jinxed myself with my previous posting. I continue to plow away through various tactical exercises, but I keep losing key games and my ratings continue to dive. It is very discouraging.

I am trying to put it all in perspective: (a) I am only into week 2 of my tactical training. Could I really expect to become a GM in just 14 days? Rome wasn't built in a day.... either was Kasparov. Still... I was hoping and expecting a visible improvement; (b) For whatever reason I have been playing higher ranked opponents lately -- it's no wonder why I am losing more. I am not sure about this one. Yes, higher ranked players should beat me more often, but I should gain more points from beating them than I would from beating lesser ranked players, right?; (c) There have been some solid, albeit losing efforts, on my part. Most notably was a draw against my old nemesis -- the King's Gambit -- where I was outranked by a good two hundred points.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


I have completed about 500 or so tactical problems . . . and though I originally told myself I wouldn't do so, I have decided to play some chess games before I finish all of the 1500 problems I am attempting to do this month.

So far I like what I see. I won several solid games this weekend... at least one against the King's Gambit (my arch-nemesis!) and many against people with higher rankings (one at least 100 points higher (FICS scale)).

Are the tactics studying helping? It's still too early to tell, but currently my FICS rank is peaking. It has been higher, but not in a while.