Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tools for Structuring Getting Better, Part One: Starting

In order to get better at chess, you are going to need a structure to work within. I will be having a LOT to say about this structure, in the weeks ahead--so much so, that I will have to take this one in bite sizes. I usually like to dive in head first, in large scale, but this is one (and good for me at that, against my nature as it is!), that necessitates piecemeal discussion. Also, the cap stone post will have to be last, as the 'big chessBase discussion', is one that I need to both build up to, and cover a lot of ground, first.

Today we begin this discussion, but first with miscellaneous subjects to prepare the ground as it were:

To begin with, I am not the foremost example of improvement. In fact, I am fairly typical. Perhaps above average in chess knowledge, significant in some ways, but lacking transfer of that knowledge. It doesn't mean it will be this way forever, but is so now. Added to that, I am an extremely very 'type A' person, and chess IS tension, so the need for more of it is antagonistic to getting better at chess, if not simply antagonistic to PLAY AT ALL. The net result is that I don't enjoy playing chess or rather don't get to play chess much unless I add stress, so that I greatly prefer study, which is more about lifestyle or hobby or activity than chess per se. I don't say this with pride or shame but as a fact about me.

Tama: Nine Year Old Cat Wearing Stationmaster Cap Helps Debt Strapped Japanese Train Company As Thousands come to visit him [3].

So what I can share with you is how I organize that effort, not what you DO with that effort, or what you extract from that effort. If you want to know more about 'types of correct effort', then go to Phaedrus's wonderful blog, Chess Vision, previously called Chess Training, I think it was. I wrote about chessedelic weeks ago, and he must be a very good coach. But if I were in Europe or had the right circumstance, Phaedrus is another coach that I would have to carefully consider. Might I suggest you go to his blog? He not only talks about it, but has 'done it'. For example, he once took a young man, who was pretty much considered uncoachable, and this man recently made his third IM norm.

Finally, I need not remind anyone that while he neither seeks money nor fame, full with his own successful career outside chess, loving family, and serious chess study, but rather that he not only has 'done it' himself but also knows how to skillfully communicate it, not to mention much else besides?

* * *
And now for the bones of our current essay:

In order to structure your effort, first you will need to be able to access and store your games, so that you can review them. If you are not doing that, you simply won't get better. Many of us do that already, but I have to start, in 'Aristotelian fashion' at square one, and work my way progressively forward by topic. And if you can do that, then you will be able to view high level games, both in classical and contemporary form.

'I am Done Organizing My Books by Color'

There are many viewers and I much prefer chessBase, but not everyone wants to spend that much, so there are alternative. To name but one, SCID is reputed to be the best, when previously ChessPad was recommended to me as recently as last spring-for those who like to research comparisons [4]. Free downloads are available at this link. ChessBase Light is very, very good, but I am going to ask readers to wait on that, for that is a separate post completely (chessBase Light is for great for viewing work in hand but cannot CREATE files, nor access them when too large). For now, I can say that I am going to recommend both but again, lets discuss this latter.

With your viewer, you will need a large database, and again, a completely free 4M game database is available for download at: ICOfY [1]. Now, there is a LOT to say about this. It is not a perfect database, but we are talking free, yes? The key is to get started, and you can make substitutions latter. What this database lacks it makes up for in shear size. What is really good about it, is that few record games are NOT in it [2].

This database will not stand still. And each week, you go to, and download the full games form the last week here or at The Week in Chess here, also free. There are few if any serious chess players who do not do this each Monday night (EST) or Tuesday morning (CST).

Florence: Old World Effort at Control

Finally, a small detail but might be news to many here, for I myself only discovered it by accident: had a Silverlight Chessboard application enabled embedded at the news site for months, before I realized that I had to both download and enable the Microsoft Application. I am not going to get into Macromedia, and Flash, and all that, only that I avoided doing so, for a long time, then one day I did and boy am I glad! Now I have viewable java applets at Mark Crowther's wonderful, World Number One chess site, and get immediate updates on live game's. I suggest you try it. If you are not going to daily or weekly, then you, kind sir, are missing out big time.

Much, much more to follow. Stay posted!
Warmly, dk

Jim Bishop Castle Builder. If you like this guy, then here is an even better one of him here. Gotta love the guy. Damn, some cool shit. Here is a full expose of him.

[1] You will need to download a free tool, to unzip it, and for this, download another free application, 7-Zip.

[2] For someone as scholarly minded as me, its lack of detailed game data bothers me, but I use it daily for when I cannot find a game in my $Megabase$, sold by chessBase. For example, it lacks round numbers and venue information such as the name of the tournament, using only city name.

[3] Alert males will notice the carefully calculated complete absence of inclusion of any eroticized females at this blog when previously widespread if not frequent. Yes. Believe you me, every week I consider the matter, so that WHEN I do restore that feature, you all will REALLY have something to see, and duly note it as such. For now, we must suffice with fractal, heuristical, urbanistic, geopolitical, iterative, natural, mechanical, global, and feline scenes but not permanently as you can appreciate.

[4] Thanks to Phaedrus, who just wrote me back, from my inquiry earlier today, to tell me that SCID was the best.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thantos or Chess Urge?

After Aristotle, came Plato, and in the mysterious groves of Ancient Greece before them, the Pre-Socratics. Much latter, in a carbon based world, nano-technology followed the semi-conductor and biotech revolutions, and excess food allowed the division of labor to elaborate detailed gaming structures and heuristical methodolgies, and chess cannot be excluded in the deepest urge to escape persistent thantic urges, or thoughts of ultimate mortality. Such an anger [1]!:

[1] If any of you find him at all amusing, here is another one that definitely portrays something!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marry The Bosses Daughter

Allow me a brief digression but, yes, yes, we will get to the harsh combat of chess tactics in a second... Despite having boundless energy, my mother was a slight woman, all 86 pounds of her when she had me, so that my reasonable 5'-10" stature and decidedly endurance type build is a work of gratitude. When she gave birth to me, she was told not to expect to live, for her frame could not take another cesarian section, her third. She did live, and the very old world jewish Doctor Pearlman (we are not Jewish but were surrounded at my birthplace) had tears in his eyes when he delivered me.

It was this same Doctor Pearlman, who upon telling my mother in reply to her certainty that she 'could NOT be pregnant' (my dad had a vasectomy, and my mom for sure only 'knew my father') in heavy Yiddish accent: 'Vhat do you vmean to tellm me, hez Jesus Christ??' But so it was, and here I stand today, four weeks from my fiftieth birthday.

Much latter, as he was in his last days, this dear man, who was so tough that he REPEATED MEDICAL school here (for they wouldn't recognize his credentials from Europe), summoned me to his home right before my freshman year of college. He told me a few things, none of which I remember except one in particular: "Always David. Always Marry the Bosses Daughter".

Now what the heck does that mean? Is it a spiritual thing, or is it concrete?? One thing is for sure, I never did marry her (in either sense of it), and have suffered for it ever since. How prescient of him! Fast forward.

Every Karateka gets a new white belt, and one of the first things you notice is not only are there few black belts, but the really senior students have them in tatters. Just threadbare from battle, sweat, and arduous training. At my Dojo with Sensei Vic Coffin, the former Special Forces guy, there was a guy named Mr. Dempsey. Every dojo always has somebody who not only has all the teaching, but from long ago, a fixture, but Dempsey-San was young, so he had been there from the start! His Gi or Karate Uniform was tattered and falling to pieces. His belt was worn to threads from all his tumbles and scrapes.

Today, kind readers, I am almost done with Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Sacrifices and Combinations. The binding is wrecked, and it is beyond taping. I have taped, and retaped. I yearn for completion, so that when I go to the beach, as I am want to do, studying tactics, always, I need not fear for half the loose pages blowing away, as happened to a few pages in the front, so that I must put an apple on top!

I met a man once, who was an aspiring chess master. He told me, in 2002 that I needed 'to sleep with that book;, and that, I have done, literally for more than two years--not in a mad rush, not like some classic novel you rush through, but like the book you never rush at, taking in every word like a gold button.

I did this with Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji in 1982 [1] and I did this with E.M. Cioran's Temptation to Exist in 1978 particularly. If he mentioned Tacitus or Montaigne, I would look it up, every single citation. Now you, have any of you taken a chess book and so used it, that you would destroy it, pulverize it? I cannot recommend it enough, as GM Seirawan calls it, 'burning it into the circuitry of your brain'.

warmest, dk

[1] Reputed to be among the world oldest novels. It might be suggested that it almost makes either Tolstoy's War and Peace or Prousts Remembrance of Things Past but short vignettes or of limited complexity, in comparison. I would read only a paragraph and then sometimes have to stop, so beautiful was its artistry of thought or touching the emotion. And--yes--it was writen by a woman.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

High Level Preparation

Dear Kind Readers:

I am starting to get comments far and wide from a lot of new people, which is a sure sign that I am on the right track in my primary motivation to 'share' in its higher, formal sense as against incipient attention seeking in its lower, baser kinds. This is emboldening. All your visits and each of your comments--however small, all of them truly mean a lot to me. They provide additional energy. Thank you.

I Love this Audio. I listen to it three times per day. Might I suggest you listen to it, while reading?

I still plan to write both regularly and a LOT more in the near term, as there is just too much to share to allow much pause, for otherwise I would get buried under 'to-do lists' and 'wish lists' as distinct from the habit of concrete action. Nevertheless this means that at times I must put up smaller posts--in no way lesser, but among those subjects affording more laconic or concise explication and thus more ruled by simplicity, even if it is simplicity concerning very large things.

Take, for instance World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand and former World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik. Now that is big. My good friend GM Seirawan wrote me two weeks ago, before his 'simul' trip to Malaysia, and upon my asking what he thought about this big match, said that 'this is the match that' he 'always wanted too see'. Heady stuff from the originator of the Prague Accord!

Now things should be so simple and clear, but they are not: and so we begin the first post spotlighting some super GM's:

Clearly if the tally were taken any time in the last year, few among us would ever have any reason to grant anything other than higher odds in favor of Anand. Not big odds, but greater odds we might say?

He has the fate of it being perhaps his turn at the page of history after all these years, the ceaseless brilliance of his high speed mind, and good manners. He even has the kind thoughts of hundreds of thousands of chess fans, which can hardly be underestimated as an outside subtle factor [1]. My goodness, he even has a pleasant, beautiful, and affable wife [2].

But after taking dead last upon yesterdays now concluded FIDE Grand Slam Final in Bilbao, we have to wonder how good a form he is in? I am not predicting a loss or collapse, but a note of concern. It is even rumored that he has Wunderkund Magnus Carlsen among his seconds [3], which cannot hurt at all!

Now for Kramnik: despite his irregularity in tournament play, where he can be as good as Kasparov one month, and in the lower half in another, not to mention his health problems previously impairing him, no one has beaten him in a match for a long, long, long time. This is a big factor. It is one thing to play scores of high level round robbins and wholly an altogether vastly different thing to prepare for match play.

It is true that Kramnik beat Kasparov, or rather the latter could not win a SINGLE GAME in his match in 2000, but he came back and successfully defended against Leko, then yet again against Topolov with the usual and also well known controversy, also winning.

Being Ready

Finally, we can talk extensively all about openings, and psychology, and all sorts of chess things but let us not forget knowing how to prepare and peak at the right moment is an art distinct from the technical side of chess. Just look at Michael Phelps effort in winning eight Olympic gold medals. When asked how he felt, he kept saying 'how tired' he was.

Think about that. Swimming two miles or 2.3 km at world record pace in most instances, not to mention time trials. But he knew how to be fully ready at each key event. Kramnik must have the edge there [9], as he has been there three times already and Anand, while world champion by contract agreements in place has not defeated Kramnik in a match yet, as Kramnik wryly points out. Here is one of many excellent interviews, Kramnik: “I think my level is quite all right.”

What does Maxwell Maltz say in his book, Psycho Cybernetics?
: "Confidence is the repeated experience of success". So Kramnik.

Very, very lastly, it is often said that Kramnik has the deepest understanding of chess. In a world with even still Kasparov in one form or another still demonstrating preternatural genius (breakneck instant speed comments at, accurate at 15 to 20 ply, given while sitting at the beach, blindfold as it is said) and Ivanchuk in remarkably great form, to say that he is the deepest is a profound admittance. This will prove to be a great match, and with Anand now only 5th in the world and Kramnik 6th in the Live Top Ratings table [4], sufficient motivation exists, not to mention the likely super motivation to face Topolov [5], [8].

Warmest, dk

Joy Division: Penetration To the Depth of Our Very Souls

[1] It has been proven that group thinking can, as it were, in a biomorphogenic field sense, affect individual performance, negatively or positively.

[2] Often seen in photos sitting, for example, Leko's wife Sophie, talking as women do in whispers and furtive private smiles (the latter with GM Arshak Petrosian, his trainer and father in law!) Can you imagine that one? Chessbase article with photos, here: '
Picture gallery'.

[3] Anand, when hearing how Magnus answered probing questions as to whether he was on the team (Magnus: "No comment"), was heard as saying: "The BOY gave a good answer". This was widely discussed in the last ten days, and here is but one of the articles mentioning this: 'Will Carlsen be Anand’s second?' from India's
Daily New Analysis.

[4] Real time chess ratings, reflective of the must current results, day by day, as distinct from FIDE's glaciatic quarterly calculation!

[5] Who would say that Kamsky can win? A subject of another post. Let us note for now, despite Kamsky's well known dogged tenacity [6], it is hard for us to see him beating Topolov, in his current form [7]

[6] Who has not seen Kamsky win lost games, and drawn lost positions, not unlike Aaronian (7th in World today)?

[7] Topolov is number one in the world, in today's table. Kamsky is 'only' sixteen, a big difference from the world top six.

[8] Wikipedia:
"Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik have played 51 classical chess games, of which Kramnik won six, Anand took four wins, and 41 games were drawn.
"In rapid games, the score is 10–2 in favor of Anand with 34 draws. In blitz the score is 2–2 with four draws.
In the blindfold games the score is 4–3 if favor of Kramnik with six draws.
In Advanced Chess Kramnik leads 1–0 with seven draws".

[9] See this fantastically informative interview, from the Russian Online Newspaper, The Sports Express Train, conveniently translated here: '
Kramnik vs. The Rest of the World'. Hat tip Dennis Monokroussos, linked here, at The Chess Mind.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chessedelic Makes it Clear

Chess Friends, I have resolved to post more often--not for the sake of ‘often’ or ‘frequency’ but as I have intimated in the last two posts, I have found that there is so much that I see, think, or know of that I greatly wish to share and not forego. And as I also said, my attachment to larger, more elaborated posts was stopping me and I was thirsting to surrender it, ‘give it up’ as they say. Tonight I thus begin the first of far many more, with the proviso that they will all be shorter, as best as I can given my overarching tendency towards the catholic and synoptic, or universal and maximally inclusive approach to all that I do.

In chess study, we all benefit greatly from routines. And, if you like me have many of them, in time they can become so utterly comprehensive, that willy-nilly we can find ourselves in our own massive prison of tasks, our own Boolean flow chart of ‘I must do A, B, C’. and thinking futher such as ‘then after P, D, Q, if S, T, or V occur, I must go back and to B…’ and so on. My goodness.

So in time, I have evolved my own routines that are sustainable, and this means not only downloading ALL the current games to my Megabase each week from's pricelessly invaluable TWIC but also adding all the major games in high level tournaments each week to a separate, ‘stand alone file’.

In so doing, I always assign colored chessBase medals to exemplary games such as ‘Best Game’, ‘Ending’, ‘Tactical Blunder’ and much else to discussed at posts in the not too distant future [1]. This also includes viewing weekly both Benjamin’s ‘Game of the Week’ (each Friday), and ‘Attack with Larry Christiansen’ (each Wednesday) at ICC Chess [2]. And finally perhaps my favorite of all, this means viewing also in its entirety Chessedelic’s Videos of current high level games.

Korchnoi's Scoresheet from the recent Rising Stars Tournament [2.2]

To elaborate, I had wished to ‘be the one to tell you all about this’ but his work while not as yet widely known is, by now, not unheard of [3]. What I love about his videos is that unlike the exhausting myriads of variations presented by the two great ICC Grandmasters (so very well done, but a bit of an overload [4]), unlike those, chess trainer Waldemar Moes manages to keep a very high level while streamlining his smooth, warm, and approachable delivery into comprehensible nuggets.

To elaborate on this must mean to compare them to GOTW and AWLC at ICC mentioned above, but this is the subject of another day. He also often begins from a key diagram and if like me you use chessBase, you can tile the view with the web video on the left, and the cbv game on the right, adding variations if not noting the commentary as notes, in making the game more memorable. After all, what else do we strive for if not to absorb so much great chess?

Lets let his fine work speak for itself, and let me heartily encourage all of you to visit his blog, add his RSS feed, or if you have seen his work, then to reinforce the value of repeated visits. There are so many instructional videos today, in chess and blogging, some good, some bad, some indifferent, that it’s nice to know where more of the gems are [5].

Warmest, dk

Some Facets of Traditional Higher Culture Make the Space Shuttle Seem like the Work of Children, such Rich Archaic depth, like something from the Gods!

[1] I have an entire list of new things to write of, and two or three times a week intend to address them one by one, and knock them off in a workman like way, without making a chore out of it. One major highlight is a rich process to share, in how I manage my truly massive effort, in creating and accessing multiple if not vast chessBase files. This is two years now for me, non-stop effort and it is still building. Every day I find something new.

[2] In the future, I will compare these two, and only note for now, that those of you inclined to subscribe to ICC but not members have the further inducement of not only having access to high level chess, but a rich library of videos and interviews. ICC password necessary to access. This site is now truly rich gold to me.

[2.2] Can you imagine what his love making must have been like, 'back in the day?' :) Such a distinct exuberance, that even well into his 70's the Eros still shines through, like an elemental force of nature like wind, rain, or oceans!

[3] The excellent blog
Greg’s Chess Progress, to his great credit, mentioned this weeks ago. Greg is not yet a ranking chess player, but A++ for his sincere effort and I read all his posts. I suggest you visit him. I love his blog.

[4] Along with note 2. above, I need to write about suggested ways to better use those ICC Videos, and how this relates to chessBase
Knowledge Management mentioned at [1] immediately above.

[5] Please be advised that my video selections are in no way inadvertent. I have recently viewed about three hundred youTube videos and try to select the one that I think is best, choosing from a large short list, much as I have done the last two years here, in selecting from a now capacious library of images. So here too now.

Another Chess Board that the USA is Getting Crushed On!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Magnus Now Number One in the World

As many of you probably know by now, Morozevich was world number one for ONE DAY about two weeks ago, through the now increasingly popular Live Ratings Website. This same table is conveniently viewed through the website. Experienced or news current readers among you already are aware of this, and this is only to inform those of you who love chess who might not have time or inclination to view these sites.

So many times in the past--hundreds, in fact--I have wanted to post some smaller factoid, but stopped myself for needing to be more extensive in blogging, as was my practice, but herein I am allowing myself to include shorter items. My goal is not to regurgitate news but rather, to spread the word in help further broaden horizons more quickly where appropriate.

More than news, when I post here outside my own chess about the world of chess at large, hopefully it won't be like the commonplace Susan Polgaresque inane creation of news about
news, but rather to share some of the tools, resources, and discoveries I have found or realized.

Also, I will now have shorter subjects about chess and, as usual, still have bits and pieces about me. In the weeks ahead, I will be writing about the ascension of the Kramnik of Asia--Wang Yue of China, notes about the benefit of using ChessBase Lite for newer serious students, how to organize and structure ChessBase files as work in progress, sources for some notable chess blog videos that I have found and enjoyed, and much else. Stay tuned!

Without further ado, in beating Radjabov today in the FIDE Grand Slam Final at Biblao in the Basque Region of Spain, Magnus Carlsen is now provisionally rated Top in the world in this real time calculation, that is to say, if it were today, he would occupy that role [1].

Carlsen-Radjabov, Grand Slam Final 2008

Both Magnus and Radjabov have been resusitating the Sicilian Dragon of late, and needless to say with extensive preparation. But today, Carlsen was ready on the White side when the two highest ranking proponents of this resurgence meet in a topical line.

Here are the ratings. What an accomplishment for this once boy wonder, and now young man [2]:

'Live rating list - updated September 5, 2008
Rank Name Rating Change Games
01 Carlsen 2791,3 +16,3 25
02 Anand 2790,9 -7,1 4
03 Morozevich 2787,0 -1 9
04 Topalov 2786,2 +9,2 4
05 Ivanchuk 2781,8 +0,8 44
06 Kramnik 2771,9 -16,1 16
07 Aronian 2754,1 +17,1 17
08 Radjabov 2749,5 +5,5 17
09 Leko 2746,6 +5,6 16
10 Wang Yue 2735,5 +31,5 23

Daily updates of top 10 ratings provided by Hans Arild Runde
See for details and complete list'

[1] Change does not occur in a vacume or in isolation. Change occurs always in relation to something else. Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason outlined four categories: Quantity, Quality, mode, and Relation. For Carlsen went up while Anand went down. Helping Carlsen for sure, mighty Topolov today obliterated Anand in twenty five moves, as indicated here. As discussed at the link in the ChessBase article, this is a relatively rare phenomenon [3]

[2] Finally, here is a very nice article with more about him, mentioning for example, his dinner with Anand and his wife Aruna, where they did the Monty Python skit. :)

[3] Here in Microsoft country in Seattle, it is well known that not only was Bill Gates ruthless, brilliant, had good parents including a lawyer for a father, but in addition to great timing in seizing a new idea, he had GOOD STARS. In short, he had preturnatural good fortune, aka good luck. So here, Carlsen had to have good luck on top of hard work, boundless talent, enjoyment of the game, and the strongest connection to the royal game.

My check now, of my megabase, indicates that this has happened only four times in his career, since 1995, twice by Kasparov and once, of course, by nemesis Kramnik. Just think about that.