Sunday, August 29, 2010

Starting a book...of my mistakes

Taking Dan Heisman's advice in Novice Nook 81 (item #12), I am starting a 'book' of positions where I erred. They will likely be flat out material losses in many cases. Until I improve, what else would they be- poor attack of an isolated pawn? Nope (see item #14).

The article was also a good bump for reinforcing why I need to do all the mate in ones in PCT...not so much for me to see them, but rather to see them in replies my opponent may have.

So- mistake number one.

Up a Queen for a Knight, I played 20. ... Rxc2. I still won, but it was a lot harder than it needed to be.

Should have played ... Rxe5, with threats of mates or getting another exchange.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Image to e4 returns!

chess by ~xxlivingindreamsxx on deviantART

I think dA has changed the way they provide sharing links...that or I forgot how I used to set them up.

This is a really cool pic, and livingdreams has many other cool pics in their gallery.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Having fun

My daughter and I have read through a couple more games in Logical Chess and also played a few games the last few days. She has been having a good time, which is the main thing.

She was having trouble seeing knight moves, so I looked up some exercises for her to practice with. One puts a knight and king at opposite corners of the board, with pawns scattered about (a chess maze, essentially); the goal is to check the king without getting captured moving only the knight. She did it for a while and told me it was getting too easy, so I told her to start replacing a pawn or two with Rooks or Bishops, and she kept at it. Over 3 days she made significant gains and is able to point out knight moves a lot quicker.

Tonight I had her playing KNB vs K. I showed her how the mate would look with the king trapped in the corner, scattered the pieces and let her at it. I told her to make sure the Black king fought hard back and didn't voluntarily go to the "bishop's corner". About 30-45 minutes later she worked it out!

In our game last night, she actually had a pretty good attack, but let the initiative slip away and I won the game. I hope to review the game with her and see if we can't find spots she could have improved.

She's also really excited her middle school will have a chess club.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fresh eyes, clear mind

My daughter surprised yesterday morning as I was heading out for work- I asked what she had going on besides her chore list for the day and one of the things she mentioned was "practicing her chess"!

I was tickled and told her to either do Logical Chess game 1 again or do game 2 and make notes with any questions she had.

She ended up not looking at it, but I'm still tickled that she has some independent interest in chess right now.

Last night was the family 'No TV' night, which includes no computers or videogames. My daughter fell asleep at about 6:30 pm and my wife was working late, and after two games of Logical Chess Move-by-Move (LCMBM), I cracked and got on PCT. I only played a single ~10 minute module, but it was really cool to feel some of the old memory muscles waking up.

I had a realization while playing through the LCMBM games that in the past I wasn't really seeking to understand the material. Chernev will describe the negatives of some moves and attention is paid to the exploiting of them and capitalizing on opponent's errors, but I found myself several times looking at what moves would have avoided the trouble.

He described Black's 7th (iirc) move in one game as one a beginner would make quickly. Because it is so early in the game, and it wasn't an outright blunder, I know there might not be a clear "best" continuation, but I spent some time looking at possible moves, looking for tactics they walked into and settled on 3 possibilities.

Tonight I will un-shelve the NCO and see if the lines are covered. If not I'll probably pop it in Crafty to see if there is anything forcing I missed and if not go to Chess Forums to see what others can point out.

After LCMBM and a dab of PCT, I read Silman's criticism of de la Maza's 400/400 method, updated my future book list (there's a Morphy book that I was interested in before, Chernev's Most Instructive Games, and then Silman's Reassess Your Chess and The Amateur's Mind), and got info on a couple big tournaments coming up in Maryland January and February.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Change is good

Fiddled with the new layout tools at Blogger. I like the way it looks, but I'll have to brush up on my html to figure out where to stick a center tag for the banner.

I finally got my daughter to play through the first game of Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move. I read and she moved pieces. She was surprising vocal, and saw that 7. d5 was better than the text 7. a4. (Until I get a PGN viewer back in action, just nod and roll with it).

I couldn't immediately refute the move, so we made a note and stuck it in Crafty once we finished with the game. It lead to a much more complicated position, which is likely why Chernev didn't delve into it- the point was to show how to take advantage of mistakes.

She had a good time and said if I continued to work with her reading from the book and playing timed games, she'd give another tournament a go. She, too, hasn't really played much chess in the last two years. Part of her attraction is doing what I do, and before suggesting we play through the game, I deliberately did some things she wanted to do.

We've tentatively decided to look at 3-4 games from the book per week. It took about an hour, but that included me reading from the introduction. Her attention definitely wavered towards the end, but that'll improve as we practice. She liked the chessKids site I showed her earlier in the evening, so she might take off on her own a little!

Cleaning up, taking stock, looking forward

Donnie was right- a number or folks around the last time I was active have faded out.

I removed blog links with no posts in 2010 from the 'roll. I'll be looking to clear any other essentially inactive links from there and other widgets shortly, and will then move forward adding new sites.

Chessimo customer support rocked it over the weekend and let me use my old PCT code- I had installed PCT on a computer that crashed, and couldn't get it to work on the Vista machine that replaced it. Now, with a Windows 7 laptop at home, I can use the software no problem, and they were hassle free in making it happen.

Found my old improvement thread at Blew me away...I have totally forgotten more about my training in the past two years than I recall!

I've learned a lot about real-world time-management the last two years. I have a better grasp of my limitations, and also my strengths. Once I have a routine planned, I know I need to work it for 21 days solid to make it a habit. Recording/sharing my progress will help make me accountable for it, so I'll have to incorporate blogging time to do so, as well as blog maintenance/reading time.

I'll get the weekly art feature back up and running shortly, as well. I really liked that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chess Bug

Vanished off the face of the earth due to personal/work issues.

Got 30-day lay-off notice. Wife caught pneumonia. Missed two weeks of work. Told after returning to work and declining family offers to help take care of wife that all the time I had missed would be unpaid due to an HR error and that I should have been monitoring the accumulations myself.

Lucked into a new job starting a couple days after the old one ended.

Touched my chess set maybe 4 times in the last two years. Stumbled onto a chess game sign-up at a forum I hang out at. Downloaded Babas.

My apologies to everyone whom I had games with that I bailed on. I'd gladly play one with you in the near future :)

I'm just going to bounce along and try to enjoy myself.