Monthly Archives: November 2010

Weekly Progress Report #7

I fell a little short of the ten hour target this week, managing eight and a half – though this was expected as I had uni deadlines to meet. One thing I’ve managed pretty successfully since starting this project is controlling my online bullet games addiction, but this week I’ve encountered a new form of chess distraction: the incredibly fun Chess Cube golden ticket tournaments.  This is a tiered series of 2-minute material-odds tournaments, where the person to rack up the most points in a thirty minute period is the winner.  There’s a fairly healthy prize pool, so I’ll probably play a few more tournaments in the hope of winning some Cubits (the Chess Cube currency) to spend on instructional DVDs.  However, I think the training value of these tournaments is close to zero so I’ll revise my week’s total to 7 hours 10 minutes, and won’t spend too much time on them this week.  Here’s the breakdown:

Monday 22nd: 2o minutes ICC TrainingBot, 1 hour Team 45 45 League game

Tuesday 23rd: 20 minutes Chess Tempo problems

Wednesday 24th: 2 hours group lesson with FM David Eggleston, 1 hour 45 minutes playing a Durham City club championship game

Thursday 25th: 15 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 5 minutes reviewing mistakes, 30 minutes analysing/annotating British Rapidplay games

Friday 26th: 10 minutes TrainingBot

Saturday 27th: 20 minutes Chess Tempo, 1 hour playing 2 Chess Cube golden ticket tournaments (the second of which I won)

Sunday 28th: 10 minutes PlayChess tactics training, 15 minutes Chess Tempo, 20 minutes playing Chess Cube golden ticket level 2 tournament (qualified for level 3)

There are just two and a half weeks left of term, after which I’ll have more free time.  I’ll have a much more intensive training plan in place for the Christmas holidays; look out for details in the coming weeks.

British Rapidplay games, part 1

Here are three games from the first day of the British Rapidplay.  I started the day with a smooth tactical smash of a Scheveningen Sicilian.  Here it is:

I followed this by being slowly outplayed in round 2, and making a draw from what had been a better position in round 3. In round 4 my opponent showed me the dangers of playing the King’s Indian Defence without being really familiar with all the major book lines:

This was followed by a quick loss in round 5, which I may show later, and then in round 6 I was paired with Andrew Baxter, the only person who had beaten me in the previous year’s tournament. The game was stodgy and slow moving – hardly typical of the King’s Indian Defence. I won a pawn, and my opponent was getting visibly frustrated with the back-and-forth piece shuffling as I slowly went about trying to win. Unfortunately, just as I was making progress I blundered a piece. Here’s the game (annotations may follow):

I’ll post some more annotated games from the tournament later. My annotations to these games have not been checked with a computer, and as always I’d be glad to have comments or suggestions about where I might have played better.

Weekly Progress Report #6

I exceeded the 10 hour target by a large margin this week, doing about 16 hours 50 minutes.  Most of the time was spent playing games; in the British Rapidplay at the weekend and the local Durham league on Thursday.  Here’s the breakdown:

Monday 15th: 15 minutes ICC TrainingBot, 15 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 30 minutes playing 5 0 games online

Tuesday 16th: 15 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 5 minutes reviewing mistakes

Wednesday 17th: 20 minutes TrainingBot, 2 hours group lesson with FM David Eggleston (with two other students of similar strength to me)

Thursday 18th: 20 minutes Chess Tempo, 3 hours playing a local league game

Friday 19th: 15 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 5 minutes reviewing mistakes, ~30 minutes checking some lines in the King’s Indian Defense (Sämisch and Four Pawns Attack)

Saturday 20th: 30 minutes watching Maurice Ashley’s ‘The Secret To Chess’, 4 hours playing rapid (30 minutes each) games

Sunday 21st: 4 hours playing rapid games, 30 minutes looking at Fighting the Anti-King’s Indians by Yelena Dembo

I expect it to be difficult to make the ten hour target this week, as I have a few bits of uni work due in.  What chess training I manage is likely to be focused on reviewing my games from the past week.

British Rapidplay: Express report

I’ve just got back from playing in the Major (U171) section of this year’s British Rapidplay in Halifax.  I scored 50% – 5.5/11 – with a grading performance of 155.  I was in the bottom quarter of the field grade-wise, and performed a little above my rapidplay grade of 150, but it’s still a slightly disappointing result.

My results were not at all evenly distributed between the two days of the event; I scored only 1.5/6 on Saturday, but came back strongly with 4/5 on Sunday.  My opponents were, on average, higher-graded on the first day, but I think tiredness (and dehydration) had an impact on my poor score that day.  I had to get up (after five hours’ patchy sleep) at quarter to six in the morning on Sunday, and helped set up for a couple of hours at the venue before playing.  I had just one bottle of water with me, and the taps at the venue were labelled ‘non-drinking water’, so I was pretty thirsty by the time I got to my Travelodge after the day’s play.  I’ll consider getting there the night before next year, although it would mean paying for an extra night’s accommodation.  Even so, playing under adverse conditions can’t always be avoided, so look out for a post about my ideas for training for them later in the week!

GM David Howell won the very strong Open section with an impressive 10.5/11 (a repeat of his performance two years ago).  I’ll be posting some of my games from the event over the coming week, and you should expect to see all the usual blunders, unsound sacrifices, and crazy time scrambles of rapid chess!

Weekly Progress Report #5

This week I fell short of my term-time target for the first time, and only managed 6 hours 20 minutes. However, this was expected as I had a fair amount of uni work to do, and I should exceed the target again this week (I’ll be preparing for the British Rapidplay during the week and playing it at the weekend). Here’s the breakdown:

Monday 8th: 20 minutes Chess Tempo tactics problems

Tuesday 9th: 10 minutes Chess Tempo

Wednesday 10th: 10 minutes Chess Tempo

Thursday 11th: 10 minutes Chess Tempo, 25 minutes playing 3x 5 0 games on PlayChess + brief analysis

Friday 12th: 20 minutes opening preparation for Team 45 45 game, 2 hours playing Team 45 45 game

Saturday 13th: 15 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 10 minutes reviewing mistakes, 20 minutes playing 2x 5 0 games

Sunday 14th: 20 minutes ICC TrainingBot, 40 minutes playing 5 0 games on ChessCube

The training continues to be a bit unstructured, and from this week I’ll be attempting to keep at least the tactics problems element constant by doing it at the same time each day.  I’m going to force myself out of bed in the morning by putting my alarm at the far side of the room, and do at least 20 minutes then, to be topped up later in the day when I have the chance.  I’ll also be changing my problem source each day, between ICC TrainingBot, PlayChess and Chess Tempo.  I expect most of the rest of my week’s training to focus on opening preparation for the weekend, though I also still have my 4NCL games to analyse properly.

4NCL, game 2

For Sunday’s game I was again not sure who my opponent would be, so I looked up the games of Holmes Chapel’s bottom three boards, all of whom could have been put on board 5. I focused mainly on the games of David Bennion (rated 2014), Saturday’s board 5, and initially felt like I was trying to prepare for Vasily Ivanchuk. ‘Chucky’ plays just about every opening in existence, and David Bennion plays both 1. e4 and 1. d4 quite regularly, which is unusual at club level. Fortunately a more thorough look through his games revealed that he does play e4 significantly more often, and after 1… e5 he usually goes for the Bishop’s Opening, so this is what I was expecting.

When I arrived at the venue I found that I was indeed paired with David Bennion, but he surprised me on move 2 with Nf3, and we went into a Giuoco Piano. At 5. c3 my book knowledge came to a sudden end, but I vaguely remembered seeing a game of his where he had played like this against a strong opponent, and my memory of that game helped me to play the next two moves. He soon seemed to be on unfamiliar ground too (the disadvantage of playing a wide variety of openings), and I think with 9. Rxe4 he made a mistake (though I’ve yet to run it through the computer). Here’s the game:

With that a successful weekend for both me and for the team (who won both matches) was concluded.  Thanks to Malcolm Armstrong for analysing the game afterwards with me, and thanks to Simon Edwards for inviting me to be on the team.

4NCL, game 1

Last weekend I played my first two FIDE-rated games, competing in the 4 Nations Chess League (Northern division) for Cheddleton 2.  I managed to win both games, but both were full of tactics and could easily have gone the other way if I’d slipped up.  The first featured probably the most interesting time scramble I’ve been involved in.

I tried to do some opening preparation beforehand, but this was a bit tricky as I only knew which team we would be playing, and not who my opponent would be.  From the list of players registered for Jorvik (our first opponents) I determined my three most likely opponents and did a quick search for their games.  Consequently, when I turned up on Saturday morning and found out who my opponent was I knew he was a Najdorf player.  By then I only had about 15 minutes before the round started, but I went over some Najdorf lines/games quickly to make sure they were fresh in my mind.

I played 6. Be2 – a line I’ve not played before, but one my opponent seemed even less familiar with as he started to use a considerable amount of time.  His time consumption increased drastically in the ensuing sharp middlegame, meaning that by move 17 he had used an hour and forty-seven minutes and had only thirteen left to make the time control at move 40.  I still had about an hour left at the time, and felt sure that if I didn’t flag him I could play more accurately in the complications.  However, I spent a lot of time double-checking variations, and, feeling a little nervous in my first FIDE-rated game, I started to panic.  The result was that I eventually got into time trouble too.  At move 30 he had just 32 seconds, and although I still had 6 minutes the time seemed to fly by and by move 35 we both had around 10 seconds left to make 5 moves.  We started banging out the moves without pausing to think, and, a little later, I stopped playing and pointed out that I had run out of time whereas he still had 3 seconds.  Fortunately an arbiter had been recording the moves and could confirm that we had definitely passed move 40; the digital clock had simply failed to add on the time.  My opponent left the room for a few minutes to recover from the time scramble, and, when I turned my attention to the board again I noticed that I had a mate in two.  He also realised this while he was outside, and returned soon to conclude the game.

The walk to the station after the game was enough to freeze the blood of even the most fearless of Frankenstein-Dracula Variation practitioners.  It took 30-40 minutes in almost total darkness (except for when there were car headlights), with the first half along the very uneven verge of a main road, and the second half through a tunnel of trees which was completely enclosed overhead.  Fortunately I made it back without twisting an ankle or being eaten just in time for a train; if I’d missed it I’d have had to wait more than two hours in the cold for the next.  The report on game 2 will follow soon (probably tomorrow).

Weekly Progress Report #4

I managed to keep to my target, doing about 12 hours 10 minutes.  However, the time was again somewhat unstructured, with most of it being spent on three long games – a local league game and two games in the 4 Nations Chess League (4NCL) Northern League.  I was blown off the board in the local league game, but the 4NCL weekend was a success as I won both of my first FIDE-rated games.  Here’s the breakdown:

Monday 1st: 30 minutes Chess Tempo problems

Tuesday 2nd: 25 minutes playing a 2 20 game (odd time control, I know)

Wednesday 3rd: 20 minutes Chess Eye visualisation training (I was without internet), 100 minutes playing a league game + quick discussion

Thursday 4th: 10 minutes Chess Tempo

Friday 5th: 10 minutes Chess Tempo

Saturday 6th: 45 minutes opening preparation for first 4NCL game, 4 hours playing 4NCL game

Sunday 7th: 1 hour opening preparation for second 4NCL game, 3 hours playing 4NCL game + 20 minutes reviewing

This week I’ll be a bit pressed for time, as I have a few bits of uni work ongoing, so all I’m going to aim for is to keep up some daily tactics and have a look over last week’s games when I have the chance.  I should be able to put in a decent amount of time over the weekend to make it up to the 10 hour mark.  A report on the 4NCL weekend, which was most enjoyable, will follow shortly, and a post about my first three local league games of the season can also be expected at some point this week.

Weekly Progress Report #3

The target was 10 hours again, and I just managed it, with about 10 hours 10 minutes.  Details of the weeks’ training follow:

Monday 25th: 15 minutes visualisation training using ‘Chess Eye’, 15 minutes tactics problems with ICC‘s TrainingBot, 30 minutes playing a 15 0 game

Tuesday 26th: 15 minutes PlayChess tactics problems + 5 minutes reviewing my mistakes

Wednesday 27th: 60 minutes Chess Tempo tactics problems (I only had the use of a computer without ICC or PlayChess software during that hour, so I couldn’t play games or do any varied training)

Thursday 28th: 30 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 45 minutes playing 2x 15 0 games

Friday 29th: 15 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 10 minutes playing 15 0 game (losing quickly in a Dragon), 35 minutes reviewing 1st video of GM Ronen Har-Zvi’s Dragon series on ChessFM

Saturday 30th: 15 minutes TrainingBot problems, 25 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 3 hours at Chess Society (of which I’m counting 2 as useful training time), 1 hour playing 3x 10 0 training games with chessdi + analysis, 1 hour playing 3 0 blitz games with my friend Dave Brogan who used to give me lessons many years ago

Sunday 31st: 30 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 25 minutes playing a 15 0 game (Sunday was more dissertation-focused, following Saturday’s chess gluttony)

I may struggle to make 10 hours this week, as it’s necessary to spend more time investigating and writing about the [sarcasm]neverending fascinations[/sarcasm] of lidar.  It has been suggested that my training plan could do with a bit more structure, as at the moment the only constant element is the daily tactics problems, so I will consider modifying it for next week.