Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Study Buddy Project

The previous Grob Challenge Project was a success and I have been thinking about starting some new project and here it is: The Study Buddy Project

 To call it a project is perhaps a little far fetched but I will give it a try. In My limited experience, the strongest notion of really learning and improving has been playing slow Games and discussing/analyzng the games with My opponent. However, it is not easy to find opponents interested in playing slow games and to have a go at analyzing the game. Enter the "Study Buddy Project"!

 The Study Buddy Project is simply me acting as a match maker for chess improvers. Drop me a note if you are interested. Please indicate your rating, preferred rating of opponent, preferred sites and time zone considerations. It would be really cool if you were willing share interesting annotated games and/or positions here at the blog. Short set of matches would be even cooler! I would very much like to play a few slow games myself. My OTB rating is undefined but I tend to plateau at around 1500 playing turn basen games. At the moment I have accounts at FICS and

Sunday, July 21, 2013

In Search of a Chess Hero

I think Nigel Davies blog is a must read for anyone interested in chess and chess improvement. A few days ago Nigel posted a very interesting and to the point article on the topic of "Suitable Chess Role Model". Many Chess scholars have suggested that it is wise for improvers to pick a Chess Hero to study but Nigel takes it a few steps further and offers a few criteria for the choice of a Chess Hero. Here is a bullets from Nigels selection criterias:

  • Active between 1920 - 1970
  • Did not specialize in gambits or king fiachettos
  • At some time point among the Top 50 in the world
  • Improvers < 1500 should pick a player who played e4/d4 and who responded  "1. e4 e5" or "1. d4 d5"
My first choice for a chess hero (Bent Larsen) did not qualify and my second choice (Ulf Andersson) also missed the mark. Since I am semi-patriotic when it comes to chess, I am in search for a Scandinavian Chess Role Model. I might be forced to include the Baltic states in my search sphere. I encourage all my readers to aid me in my search. My top candidate as I write would be Gösta Stoltz who (at least in the pre-Andersson era) was considered to be Swedens best chess talent ever.

There is a book available occasionally in used book store with a collection of Gösta's finest games. Bonus points are awarded for a suggested chess hero who is available in one or more books.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To Play or not to Play Vanilla Chess Openings

A common piece of advice often heard is that improving players should play "sound tactical openings" in order to improve. Another statement is that "anything is playable below Master level". This is very interesting to me and at the same time very confusing. I really would like to gain a better understanding of the situation. 

If open tactical games is food for brain and a solid ground for Improvement, then why not play wild gambits?

If you you offer your opponent a substantial advantage, then you will have a difficult task winning. Still, I do not see how playing loosing positions will slow down your improvement process. It is a canonical advice to play stronger opponents in order to improve. Playing against a stronger opponent is a loosing position. 

If  you play a strange gambit with a name worthy of a middle earth dwarven prince lord, then you might have problems playing Magnus Carlsen but is it really the gambit to blame?

My home work for you, dear readers, is to come up with arguments for why it is benefitial for Chess Improvement to play vanilla Openings.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gambit not so Galore

My first flirt with the Gibbens-Weidenhagen gambit was like a Microsoft demo. Everything looks fine but it just doesn't work properly. After just a few moves I had a clear advantage against a decent player. For the price of a g-pawn I had the center, easy development and self-confidence. But then reality crushed in! After a few weak moves I just got outplayed.

Note to self: Openings never replace thinking.

My second and last try with the gambit started bad and then got worse. My opponent played daring active moves and soon I found myself on a position hated by Mr Houdini and with My king as exposed as the king in a well known H.C Andersen story.

Does it make sense to play gambits with long medival double names? Well, why do you play Chess? If your answer is "to have fun" or "to exercise the brain", then why not? The road less travelled will take you to uncharted territory fast where you and your opponent will have to play Chess. What about the first move advantage? I am convinced that experience from playing wild weird stuff will offer a practical advantage. And do not forget the fun factor.

 Post Scriptum: Check out what Frisco has to say: Frisco's Post

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Cult of Blackmar-Diemer

Early in my chesshood I decided to give the Blackmar-Diemer gambit (BDG) a try. I had very little playing experience but I had solved quite a few tactics problems. I thought it was a wise thing to join the Cult of Blackmar-Diemer. My results were terrible or worse. It did not occur to me that playing a gambit is a lot more that using a bag of tricks.

After trying a whole range of openings (and buying books on most openings!), I am again tempted to give the weird world of gambits a try inspired by a handful of highly inspirational Facebook updates by talented chess book author Frisco Del Rosario.

A real gambit must have a Middle Earthesque double name! If you plan to play the BDG you must arm up with a few properly named gambits. Black will try 1. d4 Nf6 and then it might be worthwhile to introduce the wonderful Gibbins-Weidenhagen gambit (1. d4 Nf6 2. g4?!). So I did in my comeback game as a d4-player and it was a disaster (a topic for a later blog post). In my second game black was trying the dirty trick of trying a transposition into something French. Counter Measures! Enter the Diemer-Duhm gambit (1. d4 d5 2. e4 e6 3. c4?!). The Diemer-Duhm is presented in heartwarming fashion at Jyrki Heikkinen’s web site. I am especially impressed by his one page summary of the “duties” of all the pieces (for both sides!) in the opening ( This is a great way to prepare for studying the nuances of the opening. I think all opening books aimed at improving players should include such a condensed introduction.