Thursday, February 25, 2010


Too long between updates, I know, but here's where I'm at now. In "Dynamic Chess Strategy" I'm on page 72 and in "SOMCS" I'm on page 62. I have played some blitz on almost every day and the regular Wednesday G/60 club contests. Also played through Game 24 in "Why Lasker Matters" (pp. 82-86).

Taught the kids class on Friday afternoons, last week's main lesson was Queen and King mate v. lone King. Tomorrow will be two Rooks vs. lone King and if successfully King and Rook v. lone King. I hope it's going well. Had several returning attendees and a few new ones.

Got hammered in the Club February Swiss sinking from 1757 to 1724. I will try to remain optimistic about the March Swiss starting next week. Good luck to all you chess players seeking to improve!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Progress Report

Four days in and here's what's happened so far. On Monday, I played about an hour of 3m3s blitz games on (GarGus). I received an ebay purchase of "The Black Knights Tango" read through the first 6 pages--bookmark inserted. I also managed to progress from page 34 to page 38 in SOMCS covering passed pawn and blockade info. Played through one game out of "Why Lasker Matters."

On Tuesday, perhaps 30-45 minutes of on-line 3m3s blitz games. A couple of pages in SOMCS and restarted "Dynamic Chess Strategy" covering the first two games of the introduction.

Wednesday, some more blitz at lunch (my default seek is 3m3s) then the club night OTB game at G/60. I was better out of the opening (white side of KID Samisch), soon up a piece for two pawns, added an exchange to boot, and then lost on time in a losing position having let my opponent advance the passed pawns and win back a pawn and piece in a time scramble. I had an easy draw in time trouble but wanted more and got less.

Thursday, I managed to progress to page 45 in SOMCS and page 17 in DCS..

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The new plan

Within the last week I have finished two books I had been working through since December. On January 31st I finished "Dutch Stonewall" by Jacob Aagaard and on February 4th I finished "Tal Botvinnik 1960" by Mikhail Tal. However, my wandering path to these books tells more of the story of why I am where I am as a player and speaks as to my  meandering study habits.. The months prior to starting these books I had finished "Starting Out: The Dutch Defense" by Neil McDonald had gotten excited about the Stonewall Dutch. I won a couple of games even playing up and decided I would pursue this addition to my opening repertoire. I ordered "Win with the Stonewall Dutch" by Sverre Johnsen and eagerly awaited it's arrival. While waiting for it to arrive I started going through the Aagaard book which I already had in my library and even after the "fresher" new book arrived I decided I would finish the Aagaard book before preceding. So now I have played through the 77 illustrative games and many additional games and game fragments in the notes while the newer book languishes on the shelf. I did have some additional wins with the Dutch Stonewall in the meantime and will continue to pursue it subject to the plan below.

I had also in those prior months finished "Starting Out: The Caro-Kann" by Joe Gallagher for the only reason that I had been beaten twice in a short period by C-K players, first in the classic main line 4... Bf5 and then with the Bronstein-Larsen Variation 4 ... Nf6 5. Nxf6 gf6 and I thought a refresher of C-K lines would be in order. While reading the Gallagher book he mentions how playing through the Tal-Botvinnik matches is excellent material for studying the C-K and since I had always wanted to get through TB1960 there was no time like the present (although I had purchased the book 4-5 years earlier and it too had just been sitting on the shelf in the interim). Regarding the Tal book, I had read his Life & Games book back in the '70s and enjoyed it immensely, both works by Tal are deservedly classics of chess literature and highly recommended.

Of course after finishing the Tal book I was tempted to jump into "My Great Predecessors, Volume 2" and compare the match/game annotations. This is precisely the disorganized jumping around , way-leads-onto-way study that I have pursued throughout my chess career. As an aside, I have over 600 volumes in my chess library--more than I'll read in my lifetime. I average maybe 8-10 books a year in a good year. I try to buy the classics and book-of-the-year winners and those with high marks from reviewers on Silman's site or ChessCafe or Amazon but also have a lot of "junk food of chess" type books as well (miniatures collections, openings I have no real intention of ever playing in a tournament game--"Play the ...", outdated opening books that I just like to have to complete a set--the "Winning with" series and Chess Digest/Contemporary Chess Openings  hardbacks from the '70s. All too often, I'll buy a book or books, come home and read the introductory pages and maybe play through a game or two then stick a bookmark into it and up on the shelf it goes. I would wager most of those 600+ volumes have a bookmark somewhere within the first 20 pages.

Of course I try to play through all the games in Chess Life each month as well, which has become a lot easier to do now that they are only averaging 15-20 games per issue versus the 45-50 games we were seeing as little as four or five years ago. I recently upgraded from Fritz 6 to Fritz 12 which included the Playchess membership so I've been playing blitz at Playchess on-line and in the game/60 tournament at the club weekly and maybe an outside tournament every other month or so.

Now for the Plan. I have been meaning to work my way through all those book-of-the-year winners and always seem to get sidetracked. I picked up and started "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" probably half a dozen times (when I checked today the bookmark was on page 34). So my path to chess improvement over the remainder of 2010 is as follows:

I will finish SOMCS and "Chess Strategy in Action" by John Watson, I will also squeeze in "Dynamic Chess Strategy" by Suba and "Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal" by Keene. I will follow those with "Chess Strategy for Club Players" by Herman Grooten. This should keep me busy for the next 4-6 months or so. If I am able to complete these by August I will move on to "The Road to Chess Improvement" by Alex Yermolinsky, "Understanding your Chess" by James Rizzitano, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by Jonathan Rowson and "Instructive Modern Chess Mastepieces" by Igor Stohl. During this entire period I will occasionally play through a game or two weekly out of "Why Lasker Matters" by Andrew Soltis and perhaps tackle some endgame work using "Silman's Complete Endgame Course" by Jeremy Silman. Even as I write this it seems overly ambitious and lacking at the same time. I will need to throw in some work on tactics and pattern recognition perhaps with CT-Art 3.0 and a tactics book or two such as "Understanding Chess Tactics" by Martin Weteschnik or "How to Calculate Chess Tactics" by Valeri Beim.

I plan to update often regarding my progress.