Chess In Movies: Flyboys
I saw the movie Flyboys
recently, and I spotted a Chess set, being played. A number of them in fact, and a number of times during the film.
The Chess sets have tall pieces and are somewhat fancier than the usual Staunton design. The movie takes place back in the World War years, and this might have been the way they were commonly designed.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see Chess show up in a war movie but there it was. Chess fan? Check out this film!
Despite my last post about bad losses, I've continued playing and things have only gotten better. In fact, I've had about an 80% win ratio the last few weeks which is amazing. Haven't been able to explain it though.
One possibility is that I've been playing tournaments with a really fast time control (1 day). Because I keep the number of game I have going low (between 25 and 50), I'm able to take a little extra time and still keep up. Other players who have many games going on (some players tell me they have over 150) and are under even more time pressure and don't play as well on their fast time control games.
In any case, my rating has jumped about 180 points over my last 50 games, partly due to a number of wins against some higher rated opponents.
I really should post more often. I wonder if anyone reads this blog. =)
Correspondence: Wasted Time After Bad Move
Correspondence Chess consists of 95% of my play these days. It allows me to play when I have a few spare minutes instead of big chuncks of time.
But I found a really big problem. I can play for days, maybe weeks, on a game that's really interesting. Suddenly, I make a poor move and things go downhill. Now, instead of it just being a 30 minute thing, it's been a longer time that I've been excited and interested, all for nothing.
I guess the longer time limits mean I shouldn't make silly mistakes, but they do happen.
I'm organizing another Chess tournament at the office which will create a lot of over over-the-board play. I'll post links to that when things kick off.
Taking Advantage Of A Forward Queen
In an online correspondence tournament recently, I played a game in which my opponent brought out his Queen early and proceeded to make a bold attack all alone.
This game will be especially good for beginners to step through to learn why one must never attack early with the Queen, or be very cautious bringing her out if it must be done.
Played at ChessWorld.Net
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5
This was a Latvian Gambit tournament, and all games started in this position.
The beginning of the end! This move alone wasn't so bad, but rather the fact that it facilitated the moves to come.
4.d4 Qxf5 5.Nxe5
This gives white good control in the center, and there's not any serious danger from the black Queen.
5. ... Qe4+
At this point, black gives up the main attack and goes after the Knight. The white counter-attack is swift and decisive.
Black's Queen moves back to her starting square, a dismal place to be considering white's domination of the board. The only other option for black was Qh4, but it loses a Rook when white plays Nxc7 and makes it easy for white to continue the attack with pawns.
There's so much possibility for white here, and a three move mate combination is easy to spot.
Mate in 12! Keep your Queen hidden!!
Over The Board Withdrawal!
What is it about playing over-the-board that adds a special dynamic to the game of Chess?
I've been playing daily at ChessWorld
but have been getting the urge to play more on a physical chess board.
I wonder if this is common for internet players. I just love the feel of moving the pieces on a board...
Chess In Movies: The DaVinci Code
Whenever I watch movies, I look for and spot the Chess sets right away. It's surprising how often they show up.
I saw the DaVinci Code last week and there was a Chess set that really stood out in one scene. It's where they're in that guy's house (I'm really bad with the names) and they're sitting around the table talking about the Grail. The Chess set is on the table, but in one scene in particular, it's shot from behind the chess pieces, so they're blurred in the foreground and the action is happening behind.
It's a bit subtle if you're not watching for it... but I was, and it's there. Watch for it!
Step 1: Analyse. Step 2: A Wrong Move. Step 3: Lose
I played a game on ChessWorld
recently, part of a King's Gambit
knockout tournament. It was a really great game, and I spent more time than usual analysing the position, but ended up with a loss.
The game went as follows up until the image shown:
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Bc5 4.d4 Bb6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Bxf4 Re8 8.e5 d6 9.Qd2 Ba5 10.O-O-O Ne4 11.Qe3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 d5 13.Bb3 Nd7 14.h4 Nb6 15.h5 Bg4 16.h6 g6 17.Bg3 Qd7 18.Rdf1 Be6 19.Bh4 Nc4 20.Qg5 f5 21.exf6 Bxc3 22.Bxc4 dxc4 23.Ne5 Qxd4 24.f7+ Bxf7 25.Qf6
Previous to playing 25. Qf6, I spent almost an hour looking at the possibilities, and I came to the conclusion that my King could survive any attack long enough to escape, and I'd get the mate.
Also, I wasn't afraid of 25. ... Qxe5 because 26. Qxf7+ Kh8 27. Bf6+ wins the Queen. 25. ...Rxe5 leads to a quick mate.
However, there was one move which I didn't think about until too late, but there was really nothing I could do about it. It simplified the game down, which isn't what I wanted.
25. ... Qe3+ 26.Kb1 Qb6+ 27.Qxb6 axb6
So, the Queens trade, and black has a rook on the open 'a' file. Thinking I had a free piece and not considering my peril, I took the material and fell quickly.
28.Nxf7 Rxa2 0-1
One thing I've seen a number of times but never had a chance to play is Giant Chess. They show up in malls every now and then, so you can watch people play from the second (or maybe third) floors. Would be interesting to play on a board of that size.
More pictures I found at Flickr
They're available for sale, but it might be a bit too big for casual or home use. How about a Mini Giant Chess
set for your next company picnic?
Mind or Matter?
I'm often curious about how a person's perception of their opponent can affect their own game. Even in my own experience, it can be intimidating to sit across a board with someone you know is really good. Sometimes I play worse, maybe just from being nervous.
Why, though, does the person themselves create these feelings? When you play online, it doesn't seem to be there, at least not as much. You can still be intimidated by their big rating, but somehow it's just not the same.
The thing is, the person themself, physically, has no direct effect on the game. There's a battle going on on the Chess board, but your opponent is unlikely to attack you, so there should be no intimidation. It's a mind battle. Could it be that because people think they can't win, that they cave in from the start and never really have a chance? Like a small kid on a playground who doesn't put up much of a fight against the big bully. And how much does a physical presence (especially an agressive one) affect the simple fear of playing a better player?
I have even found this with beginner players who play against me now and then. One of them told me they always lose confidence when playing me, expecting that I'll win no matter what.
I really think this is a problem, and it's something I'm working to overcome as well. A Chess player should play to the best of his or her ability regardless of who they're playing against. Maybe it's true that your opponent is a stronger player and will likely win, but play your best, learn a thing or two, and you'll be a better player for it (not to mention the game will be more interesting). And there's even a chance you can pull something off. Everyone makes mistakes, from time to time.
Cell Phone Chess
Rogers has all kinds of games and programs to download, and since I got a new cell phone recently, I figured I'd try it out. $5 seemed like a good deal, so I downloaded the Chess program they have... "Medieval Knights".
For a five dollar program downloaded to a phone, it's not bad, but it poses little challenge to anyone but a beginner. Nonetheless, it's a good distraction on the way to work if I have nothing else to do.
If you're someone who's trying to learn Chess, it would be worth it just to get the experience of a few extra games here and there. It will definitely teach you when you make mistakes, because it takes advantage of them quickly, so there's some benefit there for sure.
Three Lessons To Learn
Here is a game I played recently as White. There are three things in the game that are worth noting. Below is the move list with my annotation:
1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ng5
This is the King's Gambit Accepted: Allgaier gambit (C39). I've only tried this a few times so far but am really impressed with it and will likely continue to use it in the future. Lesson 1, be aggressive, and the King's Gambit is one way to do it.
5. ... f3 6. gxf3 h6 7. Nxf7 Kxf7
The Knight is basically trapped, and why not take the pawn and remove the King's ability to castle? Black is behind in development and the King won't be able to hide easily.
8. Bc4+ d5
At first I thought this was a blunder. After looking more closely, I see it is so the Bishop will protect the g4 pawn.
9. Bxd5+ Ke8
10. d4 g3
White takes control of the center, and black moves the pawn to a surprisingly secure (considering how over-extended it is) g3.
11. Qe2 Nc6 12. Be3 Bg7 13. Nd2 Nxd4 14. Qd3 Qf6 15. c3
We now reach the high point of the middle game where the next few steps lead to a quick end.
15. ... Nxf3
This wins a pawn... but...
16. Nxf3 Qxf3
It brings the Queen far into White's kingside. Just like my article
a few days ago, this can seem aggressive, but it's dangerous and can backfire. Lesson 2 is to watch out for this kind of thing!
17. Rf1 Qg4
This is Lesson 3... Don't miss the Checkmate possibility!! At this point, Black has left a wide open opportunity for checkmate with Bf7+ (... Kf8, Qd8# or ... Ke7, Bc5#). I missed it and got it later anyway, but Black could have escaped.
18. Rf4 Qg3
Black really wanted to attack with the Queen, but she's a little weak on her own and it tends to leave the rest of the board open for attack.
19. Bf7+ 1-0
Running A Chess Tournament At Work
I recently managed a Chess tournament at work, the first one I've done, and it was an interesting experience. I put out the word, and got a fairly decent response. The players were of all skill levels from fairly new to people who have played for years.
We set up a round robin, and the top four played elimination rounds of four games each. Overall, I think everyone had a good time, and those who really put a good effort into it showed a lot of improvement. I saw some players go from very weak to a level that I enjoy playing against.
There's a few problems when running a tournament though. The biggest one I found was to keep people committed to the tournament all the way through. Some people realized they had no chance of winning, and wanted to drop out. Other people thought it would be fun but lost interest quickly.
That being the case, I think it's important to do a few things:
- Have prizes, and an entry fee, even if small. Our first one was intended to be for fun and to gather interest in Chess, but having no reward may have contributed to the lack of interest. I'm thinking about doing a multi-level prize structure next time, where beginner players can have a lower entry fee, but only qualify for smaller prizes.
- Have a fair system in place so that if someone drops out, it doesn't vastly affect certain players. My suggestion for this is to have one big all-play-all round robin, or groups of at least 8 to 10. That way, if someone drops out, it doesn't affect 1/3 of someone else's games.
- Don't have elimination rounds. Stick with a round robin or swiss style tournament. When you start having to play four game matches, it can stretch things out for a long time.
I'd like to hear about workplace (or other similar setting) tournaments and how your experience was, and if you have any suggestions, so feel free to post a comment...
The Greedy Queen
Ran into a situation in a recent game
where the Queen could get a little greedy and take a pawn. The warning bells were ringing in my head but I ignored it and snatched it up. You can see the position here:
Bad move. The following sequence ensued:
6. ... Qxg2 7. Rg1 Bb4+ 8. Ke2 Qh3 9. Bxf7 Kd8 10. Bxg7 1-0
Ouch. Look at the Queen, she's totally paralysed. The King is trying to hide in a little cubbyhole, and the Rook is about to be captured.
The lesson learned is, it's not worth picking up material if it traps your Queen. I've had the same problem when capturing the Rook in the corner with the Queen. It can easily be trapped or captured, or take so many moves to get out that you are way behind.
ChessWorld: First Impression
I recently came across a blog that had mention of a correspondence Chess site, ChessWorld
. I clicked through, checked it out, and have been playing a few games there. It's really great because it's easy to use, and requires no Java or anything else. The nice thing about correspondence Chess is that you can log in from anywhere to make a few moves when you have time, but don't have to sit there and wait for a reply. Just go back to doing whatever else you were doing and check back within the time limit (possibly days) for your next move.
Check it out: Let's Play Chess!
Chess Simultaneous Match
I played in a Chess Simultaneous Match at work last month. Len, our resident Chess expert (ranked in the top group in BC) and tournament advisor/referee agreed to play against the top four players in the tournament at the same time.
The top four players, shown below are (left to right) Allan, Joel, Scott, and Andrew. There's another Andrew between the two tables who is just observing. Len, of course, is the one standing... there's no time for sitting when you're playing four people at the same time!
The game progressed well, with a few blunders here and there (can't help it when playing fast games I guess). I tried to watch the other games at the same time but it proved impossible once the board got complicated. Since I was playing, I couldn't take photos. Thanks to Tony, our other resident photographer for taking pictures of this event!
Here's me, concentrating on the board. I didn't want to lose quickly, so I couldn't afford to make any big mistakes.
In the end, however, I was the only one of the four to win my game! I'm far from being as good as Len, but I played as well as I could, and in the end, he made a mistake which gave me the winning advantage.
Len and Brent (from the Port Coquitlam Chess Club who came to watch the match) reconstructed the game and recorded the move list, which is as follows:
1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.Bc4 e6 4.d3 Nc6 5.f4 Nge7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Qe1 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Bxd4+ 10.Kh1 c6 11.Ne2 b5 12.Nxd4 bxc4 13.dxc4 Bb7 14.Qh4 e5 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.Nf3 h5 17.Bg5 Re8 18.Nxe5 Qd4 19.Bxe7 Qxe5 20.Bf6 Qxe4 21.Qg5 Qe3 22.Qxe3 Rxe3 23.Rae1 Rae8 24.Bc3 c5 25.Kg1 f5 26.Kf2 f4 27.Bd2 Rxe1 28.Rxe1 Rxe1 29.Bxe1 Kg7 30.Bd2 g5 31.h4 f3 32.g3 g4 33.Be3 Be4 34.Bxc5 Bxc2 35.Bxa7 Bb1 36.a3 Kf7 37.Ke3 Ke6 38.Kf4 Kf6 39.b4 Bd3 40.c5 f2 41.c6 f1Q+ 42.Ke3 Qg1+ 43.Kxd3 Qxa7 44.Kc4 Qxa3 45.Kb5 Qa7 46.Kc4 Qb6 47.b5 0-1
Play Chess with me now!