Sunday, April 9, 2023

Points in Pachman-Van Seters , Hulversum, 1947

10. Bxc4 Be7 
In this position it is worth noting the importance of white’s P on a3. It’s important because it prevents the maneuver ...Nb4-d5, blockading the d-Pawn. It also prepares the development of white’s Q to d3 which in conjunction with the moves Bg5, Rad1 and B-a2-b1 make the launching of a K-side attack possible. Nimzovich recommended the plan with the moves Qe2, Be3, Rfd1 and Rac1, but experience has shown it is of little promise. 

11. Re1 b6 
11... a6 is generally played but Pachman felt that the text move is more solid because after 12. Bg5 b5 13. Ba2 Bb7 the weakness of the square c5 would make itself felt after 14. Qd3 Nd5 15. Ne4 and now black’s best continuation is Nf6 (15... Bxg5 is less good because after} 16. Nexg5 g6 17. Rac1 Rc8 18. Rc5 {white is slightly better. 

13. Bg5 Rc8 
Pachman went so far as to give this move a ? stating that black has underestimated the danger that the aggressive posting of white’s pieces presents and black does not have time to develop his own pieces undisturbed. If that sounds harsh, even though Stockfish and Komodo evaluate the position as about equal, statistically after Szabo’s next move white scores a 49 percent winning advantage while losing on 16 percent! 

14. Rad1 Qc7 
Pachman also gave this move a ? stating that the continuation of the faulty plan started with his previous move could have been mitigated by seeking simplification with 14...Nd4 though even then white woud have the upper hand. 

16. h3 
Forestalling any complications that may arise from black playing ...Ng4. 16... Rd7 Black’s play is much too slow. His plan is to double Rs on the d-file pressuring white’s d-Pawn, but it’s much too slow and enables white to make a decisive breakthrough. 17. Bh4 Nh5 and even now the advance of the d-Pawn leaves white with a superior position. 

17. d5 
This is it...the classic lunge!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Fritz 17 Review For Posting Games On Blogger

     I have not done a review on this blog in a long time and last October I did a brief review of Fritz 17 on the chess blog. For years I was using Fritz 12 to do all my analysis and over the life of the blog several different programs were used to publish games. Thus when I got Fritz 17 with its ability to analyze and publish games it was pretty exciting. 
     I have read of several people complaining that the program has various glitches, but I have not found that to be the case. I use it on an old laptop with Windows 8.1 and on a newer laptop using Windows 10 and have never had a problem on either one of them. 
     The program comes with a ton of engines which I don't need because none of them are stronger than the free Stockfish 15. The only caveat with Stockfish is that its evaluations are about twice as high as those of other programs and the lower evaluations of programs like Komodo seem more appropriate. 
     I'm not interested in Fritz 17's 3D boards with ray tracing, playing online or its training features, just doing a full analysis and publishing. It turns out that Fritz 17's analysis returns a tremendous amount of information, some of which I could do without. 
     It inserts diagrams at what it considers to be appropriate places in the game. They are easily deleted by simply clicking on Text After Move and deleting the text that generates the diagram. 
     There are some other symbols and colored flags that appear at various points in the game. I have not bothered to find out their meaning, but there seems to be no way to delete them except by searching through the HTML code and deleting the code appearing in brackets that begins with a percent sign. But leaving them in the published games doesn't hurt anything, so the simplest thing to do is ignore them. 
    My initial problem with using Fritz 17 to publish games was the appearance...all the bells and whistles plus engine output appeared on the blog post, but it was much wider than my column so it bled into the column on the right hand side of my blog page. This was an easy fix...just change the column width when pasting the game into the blog. 
     There is another way to paste the game into the blog that automatically adjusts to the blog's column with, but all the bells and whistles are missing. Nevertheless, I like this layout the best. The only problem was finding documentation on how to do it. 
     It was not until I found this documentation that Fritz 17 became my program of choice for posting game in the blog. Here's how to do it:
* Click on Direct Share 
* Select Create a HTML File 
* Assign the game a name 
* In my case my default browser is Internet Explorer and it automatically opens and a pgn of the game appears. 
* At this point right click anywhere on the page and select View Source. A new window opens with the HTML. 
*Just copy and paste this into Blogger's HTML page. 
In Blogger the game will appear like this: 

   Once I discovered how to paste the games into my blog using this method I changed my opinion of Fritz 17 and I now use it for all analysis and publishing.
     Fritz 18 is out now and is available for download for about $90. I am not sure what's new, but I doubt that it's anything really worth while. If you can find Fritz 17 it should be cheaper. 
     The main point of this review is that I have found Fritz 17 to work well with my laptops and it is a excellent program for posting games in Blogger. It is also an excellent tool for analysis and I honestly do not know why some people have found it to have so many glitches.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Koltanowski-Keres Exhibition Correspondence Game

See related blog post. A game that I liked (Fritz 17)
[Event "Exhibition Correspondence Game"] [Site "?"] [Date "1963.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "George Koltanowski"] [Black "Paul Keres"] [Result "*"] [ECO "D72"] [Annotator "Owner"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "1963.??.??"] {Gruenfeld Defense} 1. d4 Nf6 {[%cal Bg8f6,Bf6d5,Bd5b4][%mdl 32]} 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nb4 7. d5 c6 8. Ne2 cxd5 9. a3 Qa5 (9... N4c6 10. exd5 Ne5 11. O-O O-O {Ilincic,Z (2540)-Ruck,R (2535) Hungary 2005}) 10. O-O d4 {[%mdl 8192] A poor move which white fails to take advantage of.} ( 10... dxe4 11. Bd2 N8a6 12. Qe1 Bg4 {Better than capturing the b-Pawn.} 13. Nf4 g5 14. Nc3 gxf4 15. axb4 Qxb4 {White is slightly bette. Ilincic,Z (2536) -Brinck Claussen,B (2359) Budapest 2006}) 11. Nxd4 {A surprisingly bad move.} ( 11. Bd2 N8c6 12. Nf4 O-O 13. Nd5 Bd7 14. Bxb4 Nxb4 15. Nxb4 {White has won a piece!}) 11... N4c6 12. Nxc6 Nxc6 13. Bd2 Qd8 {[%mdl 2048]} 14. Nc3 O-O { [%cal Oc8g4]} 15. Be3 Be6 {Somewhat better was 15...Bxc3} 16. f4 {Too risky. After this black should have been slightly better.} (16. Nd5 Bxb2 17. Rb1 Bxa3 18. Rxb7 Bd6 19. Qa1 {followed by 20.Rc1 with equal play.}) 16... Bc4 {Again, capturing on c3 was best.} 17. Rf2 {Better was trading Qs. Now black gets the upper hand.} Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qa5 19. e5 Rfd8 20. Qe1 Bd5 21. Bf1 Qa4 22. Rb2 b6 23. Bf2 Bb3 {Better was 23...Rac8} 24. Bg2 {White fails to take advantage of black's last move.} (24. Rab1 Bd5 25. Bb5 Qe4 26. Qxe4 Bxe4 27. Re1 {is equal.} ) 24... Rac8 25. Bxc6 Rxc6 26. Bd4 Bd5 {Keres misses the better 26...Be6} ( 26... Be6 27. Qe2 Bg4 28. Qf1 (28. Qxg4 Rxd4 29. cxd4 Qxd4+ 30. Rf2 Qxa1+ 31. Kg2 Qxa3 {wins}) 28... Rc7 29. Rd2 Qd7 30. Be3 Qc8 31. Rxd8+ Qxd8 {Black has the better ending.}) 27. Qd1 Qa6 {A nice maneuver switching the Q over to the K-side.} 28. Rd2 Qc8 29. Qf1 Rc4 30. h3 h5 31. f5 Qxf5 32. Qxf5 gxf5 33. Kf2 Bb7 34. Rb2 e6 {Even better was 34...Ra4} 35. Rb4 Rdxd4 {Fancy, but the prosaic 36...Ba6 was equally good.} 36. cxd4 {[%mdl 4096]} Rc2+ 37. Ke3 Rc3+ 38. Kf4 Kg7 $1 39. Kg5 Rxg3+ 40. Kxh5 Rxh3+ 41. Kg5 Rg3+ {The game ended here, being adjudicated by Keres as a win for himself! Although Koltanowski agreed with the decision, he felt that his position merited playing on. It would seem that Koltanowski was correct because in Shootouts using Stockfish 14.1 white scored +0 -1 =4.} *

Monday, February 14, 2022

Solution to Purdy Problem

For the discussion of this position see HERE. Games
[Event "Black to move"] [Site "Chess World magazine"] [Date "1953"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "0-1"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3kbnr/pppn1ppp/3p1qb1/8/2B2B2/1NP1P1Q1/PP1N1PPP/2KRR3 b kq - 0 1"] [PlyCount "5"] 1... d5 {This assures that white can't carry out his threat to win the Q because of Boden's Mate. It's also the only move black has that does not lead to an inferior position. It's also interesting that in the initial position Stockfish says black is better by about a P and a half.} 2. Bg5 (2. Nd4 { This is the best. Even though white loses the B his position is not totally without counterplay, but in the end, his lead in development and space is not sufficient compensation.} dxc4 3. Nb5 Rc8 4. e4 Bc5 5. Bxc7 (5. Nxc7+ Rxc7 6. Bxc7 Bxf2 7. e5 Qf5 8. Ne4 Bxg3 9. Nd6+ {black is winning after} Kf8 10. Nxf5 Bxe1 11. Bd6+ Ke8 12. Nxg7+ Kd8 13. Rxe1 {Black still has an extra piece.}) 5... Ne7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Rxd7 Qc6 8. Rxe7 Bxe7 9. Nfd4 Qd7 10. Bd6 Rfd8 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 {Black is up the exchange.}) 2... Qxc3+ 3. bxc3 Ba3# 0-1

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Answer to temperature question

Answer to temperature question asked HERE... 

If it is 0 degrees F. and it's twice as cold tomorrow the temperature will be -32 degrees F. 

Zero degrees Fahrenheit converts to -17.78 degrees Celsius. Doubling 17.78 gives -35.56 Celcius which converts to -32 degrees F.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Nisch vs Woog Finish

Nisch - Woog

Result: 1-0

Site: Leipzig

Date: 1934

[...] 1.♗xf6 This move wins easily. Going after the P on d3 would be a mistake. (1.♖xd3 bxa4 2.♖d4 ♗c6 and black has full equality.) 1...♗xf6 (1...gxf6 also loses after 2.♕h6 ♗f8 3.♕xf6 ♗g7 4.♕xf7+ ♔h8) 2.♖xf6 If white does not find this move black would stand better! This move accomplishes two purposes: it removes a defender and it breaches the K's wall of Ps.
2.♖xd3 bxa4 black's piece activity assures him of an advantage. 3.♖xd6 ♕c5 4.♖d1 ♖ab8
2...gxf6 Black is now completely lost. 3.♕h6 There is no satisfactory way to meet the threat of Nh5. 3...♖c5 After this black can meet 4.Nh5 with 4...Rxh5! after which it's black who would be winning. 4.♗d5 this brilliant move blocks the R and there is no defense against Nh5. White has a mate in 5. (4.♗d5 ♖xc3 5.♘h5 ♕xf2+ 6.♔xf2 ♖c2+ 7.♔f3 ♖f2+ 8.♔xf2 exd5 9.♕g7#)
4.♘h5 ♖xh5 5.♕xh5 bxa4 6.♕f3 ♗c6 7.♖b1 (7.♕xd3 ♕xb2 Black is winning.) 7...♕b7 8.♕xf6 ♗xe4 with a won ending.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Solution to the Cook Problem

Original Blog post

White mates in 3

Result: 1-0
Date: 2020.12.05
[...] 1.e8=♗ White can win in any number of ways, but this is the quickest mate. (1.e8=♕ Stalemate!) 1...♔e6 2.f8=♗ ♔f5 3.♗d7#
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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Solutions to the Sherlock Holmes Problem

Note that in the problem the board is oriented wrong. If you flip it around so that there is a white square on the lower right the solution is obvious: 
Flip the board 180 degrees and again, the solution is obvious. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Shootout Analysis Romanovsky-A. Rabinovich

Return game

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Solution to Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell Problem

Friday, October 26, 2018

Stumped by Sam Loyd

White to Mate in two moves:

White can only mate on two squares e7 and h8, but if 1.Qa3 black has 1...c5 or 2...O-O-O. If 1.Qa1 then 1...O-O-O. At least that's what I thought, but after 1.Qa1 black can't castle because he made the last move and it must have been with either the King or Rook, so castling is not legal.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Solution to Retrograde Problem

Black to move

1... Bxd5+
This only draws, but that is not the task. After  1... Rxd5 2.Kxb4 Rd4+ 3.c4+ Kd2 4.Ka5 Bxc4 white has a B vs. R and B and will lose in 15 moves at most.
2. c4 bxc3+ 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dudeney Puzzle

Solution to the Dudeney puzzle discussed HERE.  

Make consecutive moves for white and maneuver the King to f1. Stipulations are: No Pawn Moves. The Knight cannot be captured. The King cannot move to g2 because that square is covered by the Knight.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Counter Gambits by T.D. Harding


  How to win with Black! This is a great book! It's packed with 22 pages, including an updated chapter written in 2001. And, the format is perfect: long-algebraic, bold type for game moves; short-algebraic, light type for analysis. Great diagrams. There are 75 complete games and many more complete games in analysis. It's by Dover so you know it's a good book and the price is only $8.95. 
     OK, so it's old and the analysis on the Benko Gambit, especially, is outdated, but even so reading over the material will at least give you the groundwork to build upon. The Henning-Schara, Budapest, Blumenfield, Albin-Counter Gambit, Falkbeer Counter Gambit and Latvian are covered as well as a few others. 
     If you want some ideas about what to play as Black and like gambits, this book is a good starting place. There are three types of gambits by Black: 1) theoretically sound, 2) risky but worth trying and 3) garbage. And, another great selling point about this book is that Harding doesn’t make the mistake of trying to prove that all gambits are good. He gives his honest opinions and gives many games where Black loses. Not all of his analysis is correct, but that’s not important because you must always do your own analysis!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Complete Manual of Positional Chess: The Russian Chess School 2.0 - Opening and Middlegame

Published by New in Chess, The Complete Manual of Positional Chess authors are: Konstantin Sakaev a GM and a former Russian Champion who won Olympiad gold in 1998 and 2000 with the Russian team and has served as Vladimir Kramnik's second. Konstantin Landa is a Soviet GM and a FIDE Senior Trainer. This handbook was recently created for chess teachers at the DYSS, the special sports school for young talents in Russia. The authors present a complete set of instructions and tips for trainers and individuls wishing to improve. They teach fundamental knowledge and technical skills, but also how to work on your physical and psychological conditioning. They give basic and advanced tools to improve in many areas: quick development and fighting for the center in the opening, calculating cleanly and taking decisions in the middlegame, tackling the fear of disturbing the material balance. They also touch on computer use.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Best Chess Software

     I currently have four chess programs on my laptop: Fritz 12, Chess OK Aquarium, Chess Assistant 16 and an ancient (by computer standards) Shredder Classic 4. 
     While each program has its pluses and minuses, my go-to program is still Fritz 12. While the latest version of Fritz is 15, it costs about $80.  And, you are paying for features that aren't really needed...the e-book version of Capa's Chess Fundamentals. This book can be downloaded from various sources in pdf format for free. 
     The Fritz engine still is not as good as the free Stockfish. The "Friend" mode has been reworked, supposedly to make playing against an engine more realistic. The "on-demand video” gives unlimited access to a database of training videos, etc. That's fine, but there are plenty of places online where you can watch some excellent training videos for free. 
     You get access the ChessBase online database with 8 million games. Again, game databases abound. True, not 8 million, but I am willing to bet that most of those games are played by lower rated players. In any case, my 2 million game database (occasionally update) has served quite well. 
     The “My Games Cloud” allows you to access your server games...if you play any on Playchess which requires a subscription after your free trial membership is up. There are more than 34,000 training tasks with the program. Tactical training is free on several sites.
     The highly touted “Let’s Check” gives you access an analysis database with over 200 million deeply analyzed positions. Just a guess, but I'm betting the odds of the database having exactly the position you are looking for are still pretty slim.  Anyway, why not let your own engine run overnight if you're that interested in a position?
     All these bells and whistles are nice, but for most players they are not worth the money. You can go online and purchase Fritz 12, if you can find it, for about half of what version 15 costs. But version 12 is getting scarce. 
     The next best alternative is probably Fritz 14 which is available by download from Amazon Digital Services for $40. You get 6 months Premium membership and a 1.5 million game database which, if you want to take the time, you can add games to it. Then you download Stockfish and maybe the latest free version of Komodo, which is version 8. And, for half the price, you'll have just about everything you'll need. 
     Of course, if you're looking for totally free, then Arena Chess or SCID are both excellent alternatives. And, if you want something functional, yet somewhat simpler to use then the Tarrasch GUI is an excellent choice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions by Yasser Seirawan

     This is a great book!!   Four-time US Champion Yasser Seirawan provides a fascinating and highly entertaining account of his games and encounters with the world champions of chess including Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Tal, Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Botvinnik and Max Euwe. 
     Seriwan presents an in depth look at not only his wins, but his defeats and that's a rare thing among GMs writing books about their "best" games. His annotations are in plain language and they are first class. You can't help but improve by carefully playing through the games and reading his insights and seeing what he was thinking. 
     Besides the games, there are stories and anecdotes galore. There is an extensive introduction and discussion of each opponent, chess politics and other events of the time are also given. Although he never played Bobby Fischer (that was a surprise to me!), Seirawan includes a 13 pages of his views on Fischer that are simply fascinating. But wait! There's more! There are stories about Korchnoi, Reshevsky, Euwe, Larsen and others. 
     Opinion: I don't like spending money for chess books because most of them never get really read, but this one did and it was worth the $30.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Sicilian Dragon

     The Sicilian Dragon is still a good defense for black! The main lines lead to tremendously complex positions in which both sides attack freely. One slip could be fatal, and a deep knowledge and understanding of the opening is often a decisive advantage. 
     In this book IM David Vigorito focuses on all the critical Yugoslav Attack lines, examining the most important and instructive games in recent years (up to 2012) and highlighting the main developments and novelties for both sides.
     Like all opening books, the material is dated as soon as the book is published, but the author provides a good survey of BASIC theory in this defense which is still a viable option as black. The book is not a comprehensive Dragon repertoire book. It covers 9. Bc4 and 9. 0-0-0 and g4 very thoroughly, so you will need additional resources if white plays anything other than the Yugoslav Attack. 
     The good point is that it is organized with the major variations in bold type and the author provides ample descriptions of why certain moves work out well or poorly, which makes it easy to study.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Power of Pawns: Chess Structure Fundamentals for Post-beginners by Jorg Hickl

     If you want to improve at chess, you must know the characteristics of typical P-formations and understanding them is the focus of GM Jorg Hickl's latest (published this year) book. 
     Better than Hans Kmoch's masterpiece, Pawn Power in Chess, Hickl's book is targets the average player and gives examples of hanging pawns, isolated pawns, backward pawns, passed pawns, doubled pawns, weak squares and pawn chains. Like Pachman's classic, Modern Chess Strategy, Hickl also includes three chapters showing the strengths and weakness of Rooks, Knights and Bishops. Unlike Pachman though, he does not include the Queen and King. 
     This book is good for players in the 1500 to 1800 range. Or, it could also be used by those under 1500 if they are willing to put in some effort and those over 1800 if they want to review what they should already know.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chess Developments: The Sicilian Dragon by IM David Vigorito

     Vigorito gives good, but limited coverage of Dragon theory and as with all books that present the 'latest' theory they are soon outdated and this book was published back in 2011. In order to stay current you will need additional least if you are rated 2000 or better. For players below that a good over view of the most popular lines should suffice, so it has value for players below 2000 in that it will give them a place to start whether they might face the Dragon or play it as black. At least the 'theory' is not twenty or thirty years old.
     Because there's so much theory on the Dragon, this book only covers 9. Bc4 and 9. 0-0-0 with g4, but it does so very thoroughly. No Levenfish (6.f4), Classical (6.Be2) or Fianchetto variations (6.g3) and no ...Qa5 lines by black against the Yugoslav Attack, for example.
     Instead he has concentrated on the Soltis Variation, the Modern Variation, the Topalov Variation, the Chinese Variation and the Accelerated Variation when white plays 9.Bc4. If white plays 9.0-0-0 he covers black replies 9...d5 and 9...Nxd4.
     The book is nicely laid out...major variations are in bold-face and evaluations and plans explain why certain moves are good or bad, sort of in the style of the Dummy books. 

Download a pdf sample

Friday, October 14, 2016

Alekhine: Move by Move


Another book on Alekhine's games? What's the need for one?  This one is different. FM Steve Giddins looks at his favorite Alekhine games and challenges the reader to answer questions designed to keep you involved and allow you to monitor your progress. Giddins points out that while studying the classics may not be fashionable with modern day GMs, doing so is both enjoyable and instructional for us ordinary players. 
     Giddens analyzed 35 of Alekhine’s games and twenty positions. He uses mostly words and not a lot of concrete analysis in explaining Alekhine’s moves which makes it great for the lower-rated player. He relied on an old engine (Fritz 12) to check his lines, but because he is explaining plans and ideas in words for average players, a correction here or there that a stronger engine may have found is not a big issue as far as I am concerned. If I want a lot of analytical lines I will do the same as over the games with my own engine. 
     One reviewer didn't like the book because he thought that because Giddins is only an FM he is not capable of explaining Alekhine's games.  That's just plain asinine. As an FM Giddins is 1) strong enough to understand what went on in the games, even if it's only AFTER the fact because he has seen the outcome and knows what Alekhine had in mind, 2) he has access to engines which point out tactical flaws, 3) he has access to tablebases for aid in researching endings and 4) he has access to the notes of many other, stronger players. If you went by this fellow's criteria a lot of great chess books would have to get thrown out and we'd be left with only a handful of books written by world class GMs. 
     Giddins has used a minimum number of Alekhine's best known games, but of course there are some that just had to be included in this collection. And, of those that are included, thanks to the use of a chess engine, he has been able to shed new light on them. He also did not include any games against Capablanca because Kasparov included some of them in My Great Predecessors. Also, there's no autobiographical material, but like his games, a lot has been written about Alekhine and apparently Giddens saw no reason to repeat it and drive up the price of the book.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Must Have Database

     One of the most important databases you can have is MegaBase. It has over 6.46 million games. The database is searchable by player, tournament, and annotator and you can access various keys for openings, endgames, strategic and tactical themes. Also included are annotated games and a year’s worth of weekly updates and PlayerBase (this requires ChessBase 12 or 13), which collects rating data and pictures for thousands of players if you are interested in using that feature. The 2016 version includes over 68,000 annotated games. Many of them are Super-GM games annotated by other GMs, but there are also a lot of games annotated by IMs John Donaldson and Elliot Winslow which come from come from tournaments played at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. 
     One important feature is the update service that allows you access to weekly downloads of 5,000 games; this service is available for one year. Everybody knows of the enormous opening preparation that GMs and top-level correspondence players have to do. Back before computers the pros lugged around books and their own personal notebooks and index cards while correspondence players, in addition to opening books, subscribed to all the foreign magazines they could find. These days a monster database is essential. 
     Of course, readers of this Blog aren't likely to be playing in any international tournaments and won't likely be playing any GMs soon, so why should you buy this product and what can you do with it? How do you get the most out of your database? 
     With a databases you can review statistics on specific opening line, the percentage of the time a move has been played, how ell did it fare, when was it last played and what was its performance rating. You can locate games based on any criteria you want. All that's interesting and can be important if you are a serious correspondence player, but most of us aren't and my experience has been that class players usually leave the book within a handful of moves anyway, so memorizing lines 20 moves deep (assuming you have the ability to do even that) is a waste of time. A good opening book that explains the reasons behind the moves is a better investment. 
     Even if you can't remember line upon line of analysis it is very useful to be able to play over a lot of games using your opening lines so that PATTERNS become familiar and databases are great for that. 
     One thing you do have to remember is that a database only tells you which moves been played in the past by humans and those moves may be flawed and the refutation may or may not have been found.  
     Also, rememebr the sample size may be far too small too draw any conclusions. Another issue is when was the move last played? The older the game, the less likely the opening is to be considered good by modern standards. Case in point, in my early years Reshevsky was my favorite payers and I admired the ease in which he won games using the Exchange Variation against the Queen;s Gambit Declines and then proceeded to carry out the Minority Attack and racked up easy wins. Throw in Pachman's treatment in Modern Chess Strategy and Botvinnk writings on it, and it seemed like a great way to score points. Didn't work. Modern players were just too well versed in how to handle it, so I got a lot of draws. 
     Also, remember that a line might score heavily, but a recent development refutes it. I once made an opening book consisting of recent games played by correspondence players rated over 2500. They players were not only highly rated, but it was almost certain that their moves were checked by engines, so what could go wrong? In one game the opening line was from a game that was 3 or 4 years old and somewhere around move 20 I noticed my engine was suggesting a major improvement that left me at a serious disadvantage. Of course my opponent played it. 
     It is also important to consider the strength of the players in your assessment. Lines popular on lower levels may not work when played against higher rated opponents. You also need to consider whose games are in the database because games by near beginners are sometimes included. The best advice when using any database is...CHECK EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fritz 14 with Deep Fritz 64-bit [Download]

After reading customer reviews of this program I am convinced that most are NOT fair! I have used Fritz for years and have had absolutely NO PROBLEMS with it. In fact, it is still my go-to program because of its versatility and ease of use. This is a great chess program. Many users complained that it is complicated, but it appears most of them are former Chessmaster users who are not serious players or else their computer literacy is very, very poor. Download it and install Stockfish 7 or purchase and install Komodo 10 (or both) and you will have a top notch analysis program and database, plus many other valuable features...and maybe a few that are less so. And...the price is reasonable.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Must Have Books for Novices

Logical Chess Move by Move by Chernev. This classic explains 33 complete games in detail and explains the reason for every single move.


Silman's Complete Endgame Course. Good! Silman separates endgame knowledge into rating level... Unrated-999, 1000-1199 and 1200-1399. Even if you are rated higher than 1400 it's still good to review this material.

Simple Chess by Michael Stean. Introduction to strategy aimed at novice players, but also excellent for intermediates! 


Monday, May 9, 2016

Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide by Mauricio Flores Rios


    I have not had the opportunity to review any chess books in a while simply because I haven't bought any, but recently was intrigued with this book after browsing through it.
     There have been several books that cover P-structures, Pawn Structure Chess by Andy Soltis for example and the monster work on the isolated QP by Alex Baburin, Winning Pawn Structures. That last one turned out to be more work than I cared to put in! 
     What I liked about Rios’ massive 464-page book is that it's a collection of 140 games (and positions) divided by P-structure. Flores Rios, like authors before him, takes a pretty classical approach by breaking down P-structures into families. He covers: 
A) 1.d4 d5
B) Open Sicilian 
C) Benoni 
D) King's Indian 
F) French 

     Each structure is further sub-divided by theme. Example: the d-Pawn opening chapter covers isolated pawn, hanging pawns, the Carlsbad formation, the Caro-Kann formation, the Slav formation, Stonewall formation, and Gruenfeld. 
     Best...he includes annotated games as examples that illustrate the objectives and then he gives final remarks. As one commentator opined, this book is not a primer of positional play, but rather the author describes the interrelation between P-structure and how you should go about planning. 
    Well written and I am happy to see somebody writing about something other than tactics! Recommended.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chess Assistant 16

Available from ChessOK.

    I have been a long time user of Fritz 12 and use  Komodo 8 and Stockfish 7 for analysis, but a while back decided I needed a program that is better suited for manipulating databases and doing opening research so finally settled on the Chess Assistant 16 Starter package.
     Game databases are essential for training, study, research and analysis. While primarily a database program, Chess Assistant offers a lot more than just a database management as it does game analysis, helps with tournament preparation and serves as a playing partner.
     It's available as a Starter package and in a Professional package and here I am concerned with the Starter package. The program can be purchased by download so you do not have to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail. 
     Chess Assistant includes several databases of games. The most notable is the HugeBase which includes over 5 million games. These games can be updated from the site so that you can keep the database current. There is also a Guru database (slightly over one million games from 1807 to 2006) which includes games of the world's elite players plus a correspondence database (a little over 800,000 games) that includes games between top rated correspondence players from 1962 to 2014. The databases can be searched using a number of criteria: player name, opening, date, results and more. Also, you can search databases by not only exact positions, but those that are similar is, say, Pawn structure. Not all of the databases are games. For example, the Openings database can be used to study opening systems. This database also shows you the percentage of wins to losses and computer evaluations. 
     Chess Assistant does more than manage databases. It includes several engines (Rybka 2.3.2w32, Crafty, Dragon, Delfi and Ruffian), but you can also add other engines like the world's strongest, the free Stockfish. Also, if you want to practice against Rybka you can adjust its “personality.” For example, you can make adjustments to the opening book it uses, its outlook (from very pessimistic to ultra optimistic), how fast it plays and how it handles it time. 
     When analyzing games, analysis can be based on the amount of time the engine is allowed to use or by search depth plus the user can interact with the engine. It can also perform engine analysis in the background. This feature allows you to perform other tasks without interfering with the analysis. 
     The program also includes limited guest access to the Internet Chess Club. 
     If I have any issues at all, it's 1) the program does so much that the learning curve can be pretty steep. In order to help learn the features I created a couple of games that I put in a database named “Junk” so that I could experiment with different features without the risk of messing up anything. 
     CA also has excellent documentation and you can even view videos online that show how to use the different features. 2) the appearance has limited boards and pieces and the way you can move the windows around is not really very flexible, but that's a rather minor issue. CA does offer a free download of additional pieces. Personally, I downloaded from elsewhere my favorite pieces, those of Chessmaster. 
    For the price, Chess Assistant is a great value and I have had experience with their customer service a few times in the past and would have to give them an excellent rating in this area.  I can't say the same for  their main competition.
    Whether you are looking for a program to play against, practice openings, middlegame structures, endings or perform analysis, or managed databases, then Chess Assistant is an excellent choice at a reasonable price.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

You Know You Want Some of This Stuff

I discovered a site called Cafe Press that offers hundreds of chess themed products some of which is you can get customized. No chess socks though.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016



     Deep HIARCS Chess Explorer is a chess database, analysis and playing program for either Windows or Apple Macintosh computers. It has an easy to use intuitive graphical interface and the HIARCS 14 engine. 
     The program comes in two versions: Deep HIARCS with the multi-core/multi-processor plus it gives you access to additional online content, including one terrabyte of endgame and opening book databases. The regular HIARCS is the single core versionand only gives you access to standard online content. Obviously, the better program for serious analysis is the deep version, but the price is higher. The GUI can use any UCI compatible engine and the pieces boards are very nice. More importantly is the easy navigation of databases, games and players plus the documentation is very thorough. 
     HIARCS is not the strongest engine on the market so it is NOT suitable for serious engine assisted correspondence play. Currently HIARCS 14 4-cpu is rated only number 21 on the SSDF 40/40 rating list with a rating of 3067. You can use any engine, but the HIARCS engine is best known for its human-like attacking playing style which for many players will make it an excellent engine for preparing for over the board play. 
     The program also supports variations, embedded text comments, annotations, diagrams and symbols. It also prints the games, complete with diagrams wherever you want them in a nice format. It also has an Openings Explorer with multi-source real-time trees and live updates from regularly updated online opening books. If you are a subscriber, you can get access to additional content. Another important feature is the books and databases provide detailed opening statistics.
     If you want to play against the computer you will probably want to use the HIARCS engine because, as mentioned, it has realistic human-like handicap levels that allow you to set Elo strength. You can choose to play rated or unrated games with adjustable time controls, or not if you don't want to play rated games. You can also choose a starting position or select the opening you want to practice against. There are also the usual coaching features that point out mistakes and suggest better moves and gives hints. One unique feature is that the program matches your ability if you improve. HIARCS allows you to set 13 levels of play in the play game mode from beginner (under 1000 elo) to World Champion (over 2800 elo). A review on Youtube can be watched HERE.
     Recommended for study and practice for OTB tournament players.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Two Chess Books Worth the Money


Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition 
subtitled Key Moves and Motifs in the Middlegame 
by IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering. 

     I have posted many times and offered many quotes by strong players about the importance of pattern recognition when it comes to improvement and van de Oudeweetering has produced a truly great book on this important subject. 
     Positions often have similarities with something you have seen before and this is basically all that pattern recognition is. We think in patterns, but studies have shown that we amateurs just can't see the best possibilities like GMs do simply because our recognition of patterns is limited. But, learning patterns is often a hit and miss process. Playing over thousands of master games quickly where you are going after quantity was the way U.S. Senior Master Kenneth Smith recommended doing it, but that system is pretty unorganized. A refinement is simply to play over games using the openings you generally play so as to become familiar with the recurring patterns in those openings. 
     In this book the author, in an organized way, supplies building blocks by giving short, well-defined subjects that are easy to remember and each section has exercises at the end. He also assigns each pattern a funny name, but, seriously, it's that funny name that may help in remembering the theme. 
     The author presents 40 patterns and in each chapter he gives you 7 or 8 examples of the theme and lots of diagrams are provided. As an additional, and important, feature he also gives a PGN database from the publisher's website that you can download that contains additional games for study. To reinforce the patterns he provides 4 tests of 10 problems each. Highly recommend for players rated 1600 or above. The price is a bargain, too!!


The Veresov Move by Move by Jimmy Liew 
Liew is an IM from Malaysia and an FIDE Trainer. 

     The Veresov begins with the moves:   1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 and is attractive because it's rarely played and so there is not a lot of theory on it.   By playing the Veresov after reading this book you will be on familiar territory because you will be familiar with the themes and patterns that develop from the opening.  I know, I know!  Authors usually give this as the reason for playing a lot of openings, but in the case of the Veresov, unlike many seldom played openings that are recommended to amateurs, the Versov is a reasonably solid opening.  Of course, it's not without its weaknesses. As Nigel Davies observed in his book on the Veresov, if black knows what he is doing white will be struggling to hold his own. But, for most of us who won't be paired against any internationally titled players that possibility is slim and equipped with the knowledge gained from Liew's book, we should be in pretty good shape.
     The Veresov allows you to choose lines that are either positional or tactical in nature so it can be used by players who prefer either style. 
     Perhaps the books greatest value is that the author uses the Socratic method of teaching where he continually asks questions that will make you think and keep you involved. To do this he uses an excellent move by move format. Naturally he explains the main positional and tactical ideas for both sides and provides answers all in an easy to understand prose style that doesn't leave the reader swamped in a maze of variations.