Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wrap Up For June

So, at the beginning of the month I listed four stated goals.  They were:

  • Continue working on learning the Slav.
  • Continue playing through annotated games.
  • Continue solving endgame studies.
  • Continue working on rook endings.

So how did I do?

Well, let's take them step by step...

Continue Working on Learning the Slav

I did this.  I had two chances to play the mainline Slav this month.  The first was against Joel Benjamin in a simul where I came out of the opening with a nice, playable position before getting crushed.  The second was in a tournament game where I made an unsound sacrifice, then won later when my opponent blundered.

Continue Playing Through Annotated Games

This has actually become one of my favorite things to do.  I kept hearing Dan Heisman say over and over that he started to improve significantly when he was younger because he started playing through hundreds of annotated games.  I have found this to be true for myself as well.  The more I play through games the more I start to understand certain strategic concepts.

For example, if you want to learn how to properly conduct a minority attack you can watch a video or read a book.  But you can also accomplish this by playing through annotated games.  You can also simultaneously learn other concepts at the same time, such as endgames, use of open files, IQP positions, etc.  So no need to read 20 books to learn 20 things.  Instead, just play through a couple of hundred annotated games and you'll "get it" with multiple concepts at the same time.

Continue Solving Endgame Studies

I spoke with Lev Alburt at some point over the past month or two regarding an article I'm writing and he asked about my study habits.  I mentioned that I solved endgame studies and he said that while that's not a bad thing, the fact that there is only one solution means that there is an extremely limited value in using study solving as calculation training.

Since that time I have pretty much given up solving studies on a regular basis.  I still do some, but mostly I have worked on exercises specific to calculation.  i.e. I went through a bit of Aagaard's book on calculation (and will be purchasing it most likely) and will continue to do some of those puzzles to work on calculation. 

Continue Working on Rook Endings

I wouldn't say I spent a lot of time working on this, but I did continue to work through Minev's book at times.  Maybe only a couple of hours this month, but the limited time was put to good use.

So how do I feel like I did?  I would give myself a solid C this past month.  I always think that I should be spending more time than I do working and studying, but in all honesty I get a fair amount of time in.  Yesterday, for example, I spent five hours analyzing with friends, then came home and played through a few annotated game and solved a ton of tactics.

This month I also set a new peak rating at 1763, which is my current rating.  So I'm on my way...

If you are interested in any of the books I mentioned in this post please consider purchasing them from the links below.  Amazon will give me a small percentage of the purchase price which I will use for chess lessons.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's Talk About Openings & Tactics

When I started this blog a few months back I seemed to play a lot of everything.  I wanted to play 1. e4, 1. d4, 1. c4, and 1. Nf3.  I didn't want to choose one, I wanted them all.

As Black?  Well, why couldn't I play the Sicilian, French, and Scandinavian against 1. e4 to go along with the KID, Slav, QGD, and maybe learn the Nimzo.

Now...well, I seem to have settled into a rhythm.  I've gone back to mostly 1. e4.  I have gone back to playing the Sicilian and the Slav.  I may trot out some other stuff here and there to liven things up, but I don't feel the need to play everything all the time anymore.  I suppose that's a good thing.

So now that I have a repertoire that I feel good about again I feel that I can really start learning the openings that I play.  I know that I need to do so.  In the past month I've had both my coach and Lev Alburt tell me that I needed to work on openings more.

As for tactics...I've really made some progress there.  I have an app on my phone that has a bunch of simple quick tactics. The same stuff as you'd find on but since it's on my phone I solve a handful at a time several times a day.  Awesome!

Tonight I am going to go read 1000 Checkmate Combinations by Viktor Henkin.  A book that is awesome and also funny since there are only around 600 problems, not 1000.  Ah, those whacky Russians!

So I feel that a lot of progress has been made, and there is definitely more on the horizon!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review of Inside Chess Three DVD Set was kind enough to send me these DVD's to review for my blog.  I would like to thank Mark Donlan for his kindness in doing so as these discs brought back some great memories.

As an aspiring chess player in the late eighties I loved Inside Chess.  My rating was around 1300 at that time, so while a lot of the analysis was too dense for me the fact of that matter is that having quality games to play through did me a world of good, even if I couldn't understand a lot of what was going on. (And let's face it, 450 points higher rated than I was then, a lot of the analysis still escapes me until I work really hard to understand it.)

Also, truth be told, there was something else I loved about Inside Chess.  There was a number you could call and they would send you a trial issue.  I grew up in some pretty abject poverty so this allowed for a rather nice workaround for me to pick up the occasional issue.  Mostly I was able to get them from friends who were done reading them, but on the occasions when I couldn't I called and they sent me a freebie.  Perhaps not the most ethical thing to do, but kind of funny when I stop to think that I also didn't pay for them now...

What is included in this set?  Three DVD's encompassing the entire 284 issue run of the magazine from 1988-2000.  The issues are in a searchable .pdf format.  Each disc contains a few years worth of issues along with a TOC and an index.

Let's start with the first issue.  I actually remember reading this one as a kid.  Specifically I remember that the final two games of the Showdown in Seville were featured and analyzed by Yasser Seirawan, who was my chess hero at the time (hence a large portion of my delight at the existence of this magazine!)

To set the scene, after 22 of 24 games in their fourth match in as many years the match is tied at 11-11.  Kasparov needs only to draw the final two games or win one of them to retain his crown.  Then, in Game 23 disaster strikes.  After Karpov gets an advantage Kasparov commits a grievous error and loses.  This puts him in the almost untenable position of needing to win the final game.  Curiously, this is the reversal of roles from their second match when Karpov trailed 11-12 heading in to the final game of that match.

In that match Karpov made the mistake of going all out for the win, which allowed Kasparov to cruise to victory.  This also served to allow Kasparov to avoid repeating his predecessor's mistake.  Instead of going all out for an aggressive damn the torpedoes attack Kasparov chose instead of play for a slow burning initiative which he would hold on to in order to allow Karpov as much time as possible to feel the pressure.  In this way the champion clearly hoped to break the nerves of his challenger.

Here is the final game as printed in the magazine...please note that copying the .pdf, then pasting into here caused a number of typos (sometimes 5 or 8 translated as S and sometimes f translated as t) so you might want to use this copy of the game and just use the notes here.

Reti A14

Kasparov -24- Karpov

l.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.b3!? In his 1983 match against Korchnoi in London, Kasparov won some very nice games on the White side of a Catalan.  Kasparov plays an opening with even less poison than the Catalan. By doing so he indicates to Karpov, "Get ready for a long struggle, Jack."
4...Be7 5.Bg2 00 6.00 b6 7.Bb2 Bb7 5.e3 Nbd7 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.Ne2 a5!? Odd. Certainly 10...c5 or 10...Bf6 would be more normal. With the text, Black seeks more space on the Queenside and tries to insure a measure of control over c5. 11.d3 Bf6 12.Qc2 Bxb2 13.Qxb2 Nd6 It would be a mistake for Black to misplace his Queen with 13...Qf6 which could be met by 14.Qc2! when Black's c7- pawn has become vulnerable.
14.exd5 Bxd5 15.d4 e5 16.Rfd1 Re5 17.Nf4 Bxf3 1S.Bxf3 Qe7 19.Rac1 Rfd5 20.dxe5 Nxe5?! Not the best. I prefer 20...Rxc5, which insures further exchanges and gives the Knight better options such as Nf6 or Ne5. Of course, White can capture 21.Rxc5 Nxc5 but that is a clear improvement over the game.
21.b4! This move gives White a microscopic plus. In order for Kasparov to win he must unbalance the pawn structure. In the resulting position, Black's b6 weakness is slightly more vulnerable than White's a2-pawn. Why? Because of the minor pieces. White's Bishop controls as. Black cannot make a frontal assault against the a-pawn while White has no such problem in attacking the b6-pawn.
21...axb4 22.Qxb4 Qa7 23.a3 Nf5?! Another slightly inferior move from Karpov. One of Karpov's tremendous strengths over the years has been his handling of quiet, simple positions. Here he has the slimmest of disadvantages. All he has to do is exchange the Queenside pawns and the World  Championship is his. This, though, is no easy task. He must first insure that his minors are well placed. Superficially, the Knight appears strong on f5. Not so. Yes, it is protected, but, what is it doing there?
White's pawns on e3, f2 and g3 hobble its hop. If the Knight jumps to another circuit via e7, the Bishop then controls its key squares d5 and c6. I recommend 23...Ne5!, a move that is in complete accordance with Karpov's style. The Knight eventually comes to f6 where it is nicely protected, covers d5 and prepares active play with e6-e5.
24.Rb1 Rxd1 + 25.Rxd1 Qe7 26.Nd3 h6?! My goodness, it's amazing to see Karpov committing so many small inaccuracies, in the face of such opportunity!
Let's begin as follows: 26...h6 creates luft for the Black King, but h7 is the wrong square for the King. Why? Because White has a light squared Bishop. The King needs a dark square, making himself
invulnerable to possible Bishop checks, so 26...g6 is the natural move. Black should then proceed with a possible h7-h5 assault a la Larsen. It's more surprising that Karpov doesn't take advantage of his opportunity to exchange pieces. Best was 26...Nxd3 27.Rxd3 g6!, preparing to play Qc5. White has only the slimmest advantage. If 28.Rb3 Qc1 + 29.Kg2 Rc2 Black has tremendous activity and threatens to equalize with Qd2. Bad for White would be 3O.Be4 Rc4 and if30.Qb6 Qd2 Black wins! So, 28.Rb3 allows Black far too much activity. Kicking back the Knight with e3-e4 blocks the h1-a5 diagonal. For instance 28.e4 Ne7 29.Rd6 Nc6 and Black's doing great. Garry would then be reduced to a move like 28.Kg2 allowing Qc5. Maybe White would be forced to speculate with a gross move like 28.g4. If it were me, playing for a draw, I would've grabbed White's Knight in a New York minute.
27.Rc1! Ne7 Here we have it. Black voluntarily retreats his Knight from "the fine square f5". This marking of time doesn't work out well.
28.Qb5! Nf5 29.a4! Karpov is still alive and kicking despite his slight inaccuracies. Garry must do  something to heighten the conflict. The purpose of a4 is to undermine the Knight on c5 by threatening a5.
29...Nd6 30.Qb1 Qa7 31.Ne5! At. the sight of Ne5, Karpov must've kicked himself-in the teeth - for not having removed White's Knight. Black must face severe problems after the text. White has a direct threat: 32.a5!, when to capture costs the Exchange after 33.Nc6. What to do?
31...Nxa4 The lesser evil. Bad is 31...Qxa4 32.Qxb6 Qa3 33.Rd1 Ne5 34.RdS Rxd5 35.QxdS Qa1 + 36.Kg2 Qxe5 37.Qxe5 + and Qxf7 when an ending similar to that of the game arises but with a Knight offside.
32.Rxc8 + Nxc8 33.Qd1 Ne7?? Karpov has been gradually outplayed in a simple position that started from equality. He now commits one of his most grievous blunders of the match, perhaps of his career. The real question is: how does White win after 33...Nc5 34.Qd5+ Kh7 35.Kg2 f6! 36.Qxc8 fxe5? White is a pawn down but has the better chances, ego 37.Qe5!? threatening Bh5. But then 37...g6! and victory for White is no simple matter. Perhaps 37.h4 is best. The b-pawn is no concern since35...b5 is met by 39.Qd2 followed by Qh4. Black must ask himself if he wants to live with a white pawn sitting on h5. If White can grab a toehold with h5, then Qe5 followed by g4-g5 permitting h6xg5 Qe5-g6 + and h5-h6 looks like a good try. Black's King has no protection. But even then, how does White win with a bare Queen? White can prolong the torture for a long while but we cannot speak of a forced win. After Karpov's 33rd, however, he is on the edge of loss.
34.Qd8+ Kh7 35.Nxf7 Ng6 36.Qe8 Qe7 37.Qxa4 Qxf7 38.Be4 Kg8 39.Qb5 Nf5 40.Qxb6 Qf6 41.Qb5 Qe7
Another sleepless night of analysis. Is the position won? I'm not sure. White should win perhaps 60% of the time. Black has two modes of defense: passive and active. I'm not sure which is best. Which would you choose? The passive method is precisely that. Black plays Qd6 or Qf6 and waits. White probably puts his pawns on e3, f4, g4, h4 and King on g3. If Qd6, White puts his Queen on f7, but then has to worry about Qa3 threatening the pawn on e3 with check. Is White able to win? I don't know. If Qf6, White might put his Queen on d6 and Bishop on c4. In this variation e3 is less vulnerable than when the Black Queen sits on d6. Still, with the pawns brought forward, White's King is subject to perpetual checks. Believe me, these passive setups are not easy to break.
The other option for Black is activity. Instead of allowing himself to be confined to the back ranks, Black plays g7-g5 and Kg7. Black must then be prepared to exchange Queens since a White Queen on e5 cannot be tolerated. The minor piece ending is questionable. In order to win, White must be able to infiltrate with his King either to d6 or through d5 and e8. That is as difficult to achieve as it is to defend. I recall Beliavsky holding the inferior side of a similar ending against Ribli in the 19S5 Montpellier Candidates Tournament. Imagine my shock when I saw the game continuation.
42.Kg2 (s) g6!? OK, Karpov prefers the active defensive set up but why wait, why not play g7-g5 at once?
43.Qa5!? Qg7 44.Qc5 Qf7 45.h4 h5?? What's this? This move is unbelievable! Complete and total rubbish. I have no idea what Karpov could have been thinking to make such a move. Black cannot transfer both his pawns to light squares. I don't mean to sound dogmatic, but it's true. The move reeks. If Black has to defend in this way, then the ending is dead lost because this position is dead lost. Again, I must fault Karpov's team on its adjournment analysis. Twice in a row his early moves after resumption were bad. What gives? I just don't understand. Now all the minor piece endings are lost. Black pieces will forever be tied down to the g-pawn's defense White's King will then trot around the board and it's over. That means Black must keep the Queens on the board. Whenever challenged, Black must give ground. Under such circumstances, it's easy to see that the position is now lost. Incredible. What a feeling of unbelievable joy for Garry! The game is won!
46.Qc6 Qe7 47.Bd3 Qf7 48.Qd6 Kg7 49.e4 Kg8 50.Bc4 Kg7 51.Qe5 + Kg8 52.Qd6 Kg7 53.Bb5 Kg8 54.Bc6 Qa7 55.Qb4 Qc7 56.Qb7 Qd8 57.e5 Qa5 58.Be8! Black has been consistently challenged to exchange Queens, an offer he had to refuse. White now gains f7 for his Queen. With Black's pawns on g6 and h5 instead of g7 and h6 this means instant death. Unbelievable. What could Karpov possibly have been thinking when playing these moves?
58...Qc5 59.Qf7ch Kh8 Now Garry's task is simple. All he needs to do is redeploy his Bishop so as to be able to attack g6.
60.Ba4 Qd5 + 61.Kh2 Qc5 62.Bb3 Qc8 63.Bd1 Qc5 64.Kg2 RESIGNS
It is impossible to prevent Bf3-e4xg6.·The only thing to be wary of is that Black is in stalemate. Therefore, White must take the precaution of putting his King on a square that doesn't allow Black to give up his Queen. It's remarkable to see Karpov lose in a style that he himself has patented. Truly, Garry has learned a great deal from their 124 fights together.
One amusing note is that the first issue of the magazine incorrectly identifies the year as 1987 rather than 1988.

After this amazing first issue the magazine goes on to cover all of the most important events of the next 12 years.  The tail end of the peak years of players such as Hubner, Karpov, Andersson, and Ljubojevic, are covered simultaneously with the emergence of such players as Shirov, Kamsky, Topalov, and Kramnik.

Due to some technical issues with the difficulties of converting .pdf into text on this blog I have decided to limit this review to the excerpt above.

There is one downside with the DVD's, and that is that it would be nice if they came with some sort of .pgn files accompanying them.  The .pdf format does not allow for ease of playing through the analysis or really of reading the articles.

What I have found myself doing is printing them out as I read them.  Granted, this flies in the face of having this information in an electronic rather than a hard format, but it is the easiest way to play through the games and read the articles.  And believe me, this is all well worth reading/playing.  There are some real gems here and not only do you get the analysis, but you also capture the flavor of the moment in which these games occurred.

So all in all I enjoyed this time capsule and again I am very grateful to the folks at for sending the DVD's to me for review.  I had had, and anticipate continuing to have, hours of enjoyment.

Please purchase this DVD set here.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Peak Rating Achieved!

This weekend I played in the Milwaukee Summer Challenge II, a five round G/120 tournament.

In four of the five rounds I was paired up, and in the final round when I was paired down, it was only by 23 points.

In round one I had Black against Bob Both, rated 1899.  I had played him twice before, but in G/60 events.  The first time we played I won, the second time he did.  So I expected a tough fight, but wasn't overly concerned about the 200+ point rating difference.

After an interesting English Opening that featured some sharp opposite side castling I wound up slightly better but the position was very rich.  I wound up on the better side of an ending, but I misplayed it and had to use some technique to hold the draw. 

Round two I was paired against Robert Bruch, a player rated 1841 whom I had never faced before.  Again I had Black, and for the first time in my life I played a mainline Slav (I have played the ...a6 Slav from time to time).  I decided to sac a knight for two pawns and the initiative rather than give up the bishop pair and be faced with a position that would require a long and patient defense.  My opponent was able to get Queens off the board, but in doing so had to give me the bishop pair. 

Although I had some comp I was thinking that I was going to have to fight for a draw.  Then Robert blundered a rook and resigned on the spot.

In the final round of Saturday I was paired against James Ellis.  A former master and state champ who successfully petitioned the USCF to lower his floor.  These days he is rated 1908.  I finally had White, and we played a Grand Prix.  I have played the Grand Prix a few times before, but don't truly understand the positions and so I quickly found myself in trouble.  Then I blundered a pawn and the exchange and resigned on the spot.

So at the end of day one I was 1.5-1.5 having played up all three games.  So far so good.

This morning I was paired against a fellow member of the Southwest Chess Club, Jeff Pokorski, rated 1773. I had White again and knew that Jeff has been playing the 2...Nf6 lines of the Scandinavian recently, but instead he played something he called the Colorado Gambit, which went 1. e4 Nc6  2. Nf3 f5.  Weird stuff, but OK.  The position became fairly complex and then I had a chance to trade down in to a good knight vs. bad bishop position with those being the only minors left on the board.  Jeff then swapped the bishop for my knight and at the end of a long line I missed a devastating shot and dropped a pawn.

I felt like I had some comp, but not a lot.  Then Jeff dropped the pawn back and we agreed to a draw.

The final rounds saw me paired against another club player, John Hegelmeyer, rated 1660.  I had Black and played a Scheveningen.  He went into the 6. Be2 line and I played absolutely terribly. I missed several good responses for my opponent, although luckily for me he missed them as well.

John wound up hanging a knight and I almost didn't see it.  Fortunately I finally noticed it and after I took the piece we played a few more moves before he resigned.

So after all was said and done I went 3-2 in a very tough tournament and gained 69 points, raising my rating to 1752, which sets an all time peak for me of 28 points over my old one of 1724.  Since I drew an expert in a club game last Thursday I have the potential for a nice gain when that is rated in a couple of weeks if I can continue my momentum.

One last note...this morning I sadly learned that club member Dean Sydlewski passed away last week at the age of 51.  I'm not sure what happened, but I know that he will be missed.  He was a nice guy from what I knew of him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good Result Follows Long Lesson

"I got to say, today was a good day." - Ice Cube

Yesterday was a good chess day. 

I started out the morning by working on analyzing one of my recent games.  This is an area where I know that I need improvement.  One of the troubles I have is that when analyzing my games I just sort of make the moves quickly and pretty much only look to improve on the losing move.  It's just not a skill that I have properly trained myself for.

Now intellectually I know that analysis of ones own games is one of the best ways to improve.  But I rarely do it because I'm not good at it.  That changes NOW.  It's just time to work at it until I develop that skillset.

After that I had a two and a half hour chess lesson.  Since I had a tournament game to play that night the lesson was nothing too in depth.  Mostly discussions about how to analyze games and how to break some bad habits.

In fact, I was given a "Chess Exorcism" list that reads as follows:

  • You do not see all your mistakes.
  • You do not truly calculate - calculation is threats and goals.
  • You are not familiar with the openings you are playing.
  • You (probably) lose track of "what's going on in your head" when calculating.
  • You still violate fundamental rules of chess.
  • You play moves sometimes that have no "real" objective purpose.

Now some people reading this probably think "That's really harsh.  Why would you take lessons from someone who talks to you like that?"  But let's step back and think about this for a second...start by asking yourself this question - "Why do I take lessons?"

The answer should be that you want to improve.  Let's face it, you're not going to improve unless you fix the things that you do wrong.  And the best way to do that is for someone to point out what you are doing wrong in a direct and unequivocal fashion.

Sure, your coach can tell you "Hey, you're doing really great!" and from time to time they should (and both people I have taken lessons from have done so at times) but mainly they should be working with you to eliminate weaknesses.  This is easier to accomplish when no one is pulling punches.  This shouldn't be the approach taken with children, but for adults or older juniors it's appropriate.

After my lesson I went to the club last night to play in the first round of a three round G/100 club Swiss.  I was paired against Troy Zimmerman, who is a senior (I think) in high school and just made Expert last year.  I had played Troy once before a couple of years ago and that game was a fairly lifeless draw.

This time the game was much different.  I was able to equalize out of the opening after 7...d5 and then eventually won a pawn.  After his 36th move Troy offered me a draw.  I was up a pawn and was thinking about continuing but my plan was to trade rooks after which I knew I couldn't hold the extra pawn.

I wanted to trade rooks because my king was tied up to keep his rook from penetrating on the c file.  I kept trying to find a way to make either ...f5 or ...h5 work, but I just couldn't find one that didn't seem too risky based on the amount of time I had left.  So I took the draw.

I did check the evaluation of the final position with Fritz 12 and the computer says I shouldn't trade rooks and that I have an edge.  So that will give me some future material to study.

I haven't (and won't) look at anything else from this game with the engine.  I will do so after I spend several hours analyzing it myself.

See the game here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lots of Games Coming Up This Week

Gonna be a busy week.  I'll have a game at the club on Thursday the 13th, then five games between this Saturday and Sunday.

But it's good.  Haven't played a rated game in a few weeks and no slow games in a few weeks.  So I'm looking forward to getting back on the horse.

I'll post results after the games.

Italian or Spanish?

That is the question...

I grew up playing the White side of the Ruy Lopez at every opportunity.  Loved it.  Didn't know too much theory, but as a 1300 player who's really expected to know that much theory?!

Then about a year and a half ago I switched to the Italian game.  The results were actually not too bad..

Fast forward to about six months ago when I started playing the Ruy Lopez again.  Have only had one opportunity to play it and I won the game handily.

But now...well, quandary time.  My coach thinks that I'll do really well with it.  Also, certainly less theory. 

So why do I feel so conflicted?  Perhaps because I have to learn some Two Knights theory as well?  I don't know.  I just know that I only feel 75% sure about this decision.  And come on, it's just an opening.  Theoretically the choice of openings shouldn't make a difference at this level, although how can it hurt to play the same opening as a strong master who you're taking lessons from who can really teach the ideas behind it.

Perhaps this type of silly inner conflict is part of what holds people back in chess sometimes.

Stay tuned for which opening Chris at eleven...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My First Review!

For anyone who has been wondering why I haven't been blogging as much these days there is a reason...I have been doing a lot of other writing. Here is a link to my first eBook review.  I reviewed Fighting Chess: Move by Move by IM Colin Crouch.

I have also written a couple of items for the Skokie Patch.

Here is one about Joel Benjamin visiting Skokie, IL tonight for a lecture/simul.

I also wrote this story about an IM norm event that was held in Skokie.

I am currently working on additional eBook reviews.

So stay tuned for that.

However, that doesn't mean that I am done blogging here.  Far from it.  I still intend to continue with my efforts to become a master, so keep your eyes peeled for news along those lines.

I will be working next week on preparing for the Milwaukee Summer Challenge to be held in Milwaukee, WI on June 15th & 16th.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Plan for June

New month, new plan.

Yesterday I received the copy of Fighting Chess With Hikaru Nakamura  that I ordered.  I haven't had a chance to play through any of those games yet, but I certainly will be doing so over the next few days/weeks.  But I have read some of the text.  One of the things that I read was Naka talking about the role that computers played in his youth as he developed and got good.

He mentions that not only did he play against the computer, but that he trained against it as well.  i.e. either tactics, or playing middlegame/endgame positions against it.  Well, it would seem that the time has come for me to make the most of my premium membership at and start using the position trainers there.  After all, that's how I learned to mate with the two bishops last month!

So I believe that the plan of the month will mostly be to do these things...

  • Continue working on learning the Slav.
  • Continue playing through annotated games.
  • Continue solving endgame studies.
  • Continue working on rook endings.
So how will I accomplish those goals?  Let's take them step by step.

Continue Learning the Slav

I was playing the ...a6 Slav for a while, and in fact I was able to score my only draw against a master on the black side of this opening.  Currently I am looking at more than just the ...a6 lines though.  I have been reading The Slav: Move by Move by IM Cyrus Lakdawala.  I really enjoy the format of the books in this series as it is a collection of well annotated games.

I plan on continuing to work through that book, at which point I will probably start working through Viktor Bologan's excellent work The Chebanenko Slav to refresh those ideas in my head.

Continue Playing Through Annotated Games

By this I mean continue to plod through Dr. Tartakower's wonderful work 500 Master Games of Chess.  I am just over 100 games in, so my goal to finish this year is still in sight.  Although I need to step it up and start working through 10 or so games on the weekend since I'm only getting a few in during the week.

Continue Solving Endgame Studies

Really I only just started working on these again recently.  Interesting how having a blog forces you to do things that might not be your favorite.  If you're honest with yourself then you wind up doing the things that you keep saying you need to do but aren't.

So far for this I have been using Endgame Challenge by GM John Nunn.  At some point, once I am done with this I will seek out the book by the most noted endgame composer of all time, Genrihk Kasparyan Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies which GM Akobian mentioned in a lecture that I was at.

Continue Working on Rook Endings

I made some progress last month working through about the first 20% or so of A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames by IM Minev (with an excellent forward by GM Yasser Seirawan by the way!)

I need to continue progress in that area.  This is primarily where I plan on using the computer to train.  It's time to get serious about forcing myself to calculate more, and this is how I plan on doing it.

So there you have it...the plan for June!

If you like any of the books that I have mentioned and are interested in purchasing them, please purchase them through these links.  I will make a nominal percentage of the purchase price and promise to use all the money (what little there is) on my chess training.  I really need to be able to take a one to two hour lesson each week and can currently afford only one to two per month.

This doesn't cost you any more, and the money goes to a good cause!