One Year On

May 15, 2019

Although I recently had a small reminder of the value of humility, today I’m going to soldier on in my immodest way and celebrate the first anniversary of one of the most exciting days of my life, the publication day of The Book of Why. Being a writer, especially of books, is a strange business. […]

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When Is It Okay to Resign?

May 12, 2019

Last week I was talking with one of the chess parents at the Aptos Library Chess Club, and she asked me a really good question: “When is it okay to resign?” She has never been part of the chess world before, and she was genuinely curious: What is the common practice among chess players? I […]

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Agony Sunday!

May 5, 2019

As I mentioned a few days ago, Jonathan Speelman’s Agony column at chessbase.com featured two of my games this week. I hope you’ll click on over, see what Speelman has to say, and enjoy the thrill of paying without your queen from move six on! Speelman’s comments are well thought-out and appreciated. Some of the […]

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Splendidly Evil!

May 1, 2019

Some of you may know about Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman’s Agony Column at ChessBase.com. It’s a column for reader-submitted games, which GM Speelman annotates. The reason for the unusual name is that he asks you to submit one victory (the ecstasy game) and one defeat (the agony game). Last month I had the idea of submitting […]

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Robot Ninja Warriors

April 18, 2019

One of the delightful things about running a chess club for kids is that I can watch them learn. And, sometimes, I can learn from them. Take, for example, this Tuesday, when I learned a new chess term: “robot ninja warriors.” One of the kids, named Joaquin, called me over and said that his opponent […]

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I Wanna Be a Paperback Writer!

April 11, 2019

Last week I got a package in the mail from England: ten copies of the paperback edition of The Book of Why! The occasion brought to mind that goofy old Beatles song, Paperback Writer. In fact, I’ve been waiting quite a long time to be a “paperback writer.” My first book, The Big Splat, never sold enough to […]

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OMG! I Played Capablanca’s Move!

April 9, 2019

You know the move I’m talking about. Or if you don’t know, you SHOULD know. Ossip Bernstein versus Jose Raul Capablanca. Moscow 1914. FEN: 3r2k1/p4ppp/1q6/8/8/2R1P3/P3QPPP/6K1 b – – 0 29 In this harmless-looking position, Bernstein (White) was surely expecting Capablanca to play something like 29. … Qb1+ 30. Qf1 Qxa2, when White should be able […]

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Two Landmarks for Mike Splane

April 5, 2019

Mike Splane, one of my regular readers and the inspiration for countless posts on this blog, has often asked why I often identify my younger opponents as, “John Doe, the #17 14-year-old in the country.” Why don’t I refer to older players like him the same way? Well, there are three reasons. It recognizes the […]

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Blind Pigs and other Life Lessons

March 29, 2019

I have some questions for all the chess coaches out there. Do you ever play games against your students? Do you think it is ever worth playing a bad move on purpose against them, to give them a learning opportunity or a chance to win? Do you think it is appropriate to coach them during […]

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The Unbreakable Pin and the Long March

March 23, 2019

This week I played a game against the computer that featured two of my favorite strategic themes. The unbreakable pin is, of course, well known. The second concept, the Long March, is one that I named but of course didn’t invent. It’s simply the plan of marching the king from one side of the board […]

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